First Test: Australian bats push on

Australia's Mitchell Starc in action during Day 2 of the first Test against South Africa in Durban. AFP

Australia added just 63 runs in nearly 28 overs for the loss of key wicket Steve Smith (38), first innings top-scorer Mitchell Marsh (6) and Tim Paine (14).

Smith was locked in deep discussions with umpires throughout the final-wicket stand, but officials Sundaram Ravi and Kumar Dharmasena eventually decided enough was enough with five overs remaining in the day.

South Africa, on the other hand, will be mighty pleased with Aiden Markram. His 213-ball innings included 19 boundaries.

Australia's bowler Nathan Lyon, right, reacts after running out South Africa's batsman AB de Villiers, for a duck. "Our tail played really well, it was probably the difference in the end", he said.

In the past, preparing a slow and low track might have been the Achilles' heal of Australians, but with an abundance of subcontinent sojourns over the past two years and Starc's ability with the old ball, it is not as easy to deflate the current Australian team on a surface that was prepared in Durban.

"He's such a risky, fast, left-arm bowler that it's a delight to have him in your team". I have a young family and a foreign wife, and the current demanding global schedule has put a lot of strain us.

Markram regained composure and showed remarkable grit, scoring 143 as South Africa briefly threatened to reel in a target of 417.

Four years ago, reverse swing was on South Africa's side in Port Elizabeth, which is generally one of the drier pitches in the country.

Australia will begin their second innings on the third morning with what looks a match-winning lead on an abrasive wicket that is likely to deteriorate further in the coming days.

Lose at St George's Park, and the dream is instantly ruined, as a 2-2 share would then become the best possible outcome for Faf du Plessis and company.

The visitors gained a handy 189 run first innings lead. All these batsmen are thought to be entering the twilight or, in Elgar's case, the latter half of their careers. But now, after the younger crop came good in the Durban Test, South Africa have evidence of depth.

Coach Ottis Gibson has added to the feeling by questioning the strength of the domestic game after the T20 series against India."The gulf between domestic cricket and worldwide cricket is still quite a wide one", he said. The run-out between him and AB would have been weighing on his mind. "That says a lot about his character". He was the mainstay in an 87-run partnership with Theunis de Bruyn, who scored 36, and added 147 more runs with De Kock for the sixth wicket.

Mitchell Starc swept away the South African tail with lethal reverse swing for the second time in the match before being denied a potential hat-trick and a 10-wicket haul by bad light in an eventful fourth evening of the opening Test match between the Proteas and Australia at Kingsmead on Sunday.

This isn't about petty name calling, this is about South Africa not taking a backward step, showing unity in battle (in a cricketing sense), making the two Australian batsmen feel alone out in the middle and like they're up against 11 players. "It was great to see the fight from our bowlers too. Even the spinners were becoming harder to see", Australia's Paine said, accepting the decision of the umpires. "That will do them well for the series".

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