Australia opening batsman David Warner says that 300-plus would be a solid first-innings score against the Proteas.
It was an even day of Test cricket. The Proteas bowled well in the first session to reduce Australia to 95-3 before lunch, followed by a steady recovery from Australia’s batsmen.
Warner gritted away on a slow wicket after Steve Smith put Australia in to bat. Warner managed a handy 51 before he was dismissed for Vernon Philander’s second scalp after Australia had lost Cameron Bancroft for five and Usman Khawaja on 14 early in the first session.
Warner’s partnership with Smith was key. He strung together a 56-run partnership with his captain before his dismissal. Smith (56) also went on to score a half-century of his own, before he was dismissed.
Shaun Marsh scored 40 before he lost his scalp, with Australia ending the day on 225-5.
Warner believes that a first-innings total above 300 is stellar.
‘The stats suggest that 280-290 is the even mark, but that is usually on a wicket which is doing something in Durban,’ said Warner. ‘If we get above 300 and then get a lead, that will be crucial.’
Maharaj was content with the Proteas’ performance but admitted that the match is level at this point.
‘To be honest, it is even-stevens at the moment,’ he said. ‘We have the Australians five wickets down and we are controlling the rate, but they have two in batsmen at the crease at the moment, so hopefully, we can break a partnership and put ourselves in the driving seat tomorrow.’
Spin will play a huge factor in this Test and Maharaj proved that. He finished with 2-69 which included the scalps of Smith and Marsh in the final session.
‘He controlled the game well from one end. Especially when the ball was going reverse,’ said Warner about Maharaj’s performance.
‘We speak to Gaz [Nathan Lyon] about it quite a bit. When the ball is shifting, you always have to talk to the spinners and make sure they are holding the ball the right way, keeping one side dry and making sure we are shining it.
‘That never affected the way he [Maharaj] bowled, sometimes it can affect some spinners. I felt he held up one end very well and they slowed down our scoring with the fast bowlers at the other end.
‘With Gaz’s turn and bounce that will play a key role for us. At the end of the day, it’s about bowling in partnerships, just like batting, you have to help the guy at the other end.
‘If you can bowl in partnerships and take wickets collectively, that’s how you get 10 wickets and hopefully 10 in the second.’
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