Starc and Lyon destroy South Africa as Aussies take control

Starc now has nine five-wicket hauls in Test cricket.

Starc now has nine five-wicket hauls in Test cricket. Photo: Getty

Mitchell Starc ran riot in the last hour of play on day two, destroying the South African tail and putting Australia in complete command of the first Test in Durban.

Starc finished with 5-34 from 10.4 overs as the Proteas collapsed from 5-150 to 162 all out – a far cry from the tourists’ 351.

After Mitch Marsh’s excellent 96 helped Australia to an imposing total, Nathan Lyon (3-50 off 16 overs) did the early damage in the South African innings.

And Starc’s late rampage ensured Australia should take a 1-0 lead in the much-anticipated four-Test series.

A very slow start to the day – just 25 runs were scored in the first 13 overs – was not an indication of what was to come, as 15 wickets fell on an entertaining day of cricket.

And while South Africa’s batting was poor, AB de Villiers did his job, hitting an excellent 71 not out that was highlighted by 11 fours.

An amusing sidenote from the day’s play was Australia’s unorthodox bid to get the stump microphones turned down.

After their request before the Test started was not met, players began mentioning rival companies to ICC and Cricket South Africa sponsors, like Qantas and XXXX beer.

It was a witty – if unsuccessful – ploy as Australia seemed keen to let their verbal barbs stay on the field.

Australia, who resumed on day two at 5-225, had early joy with the ball, as Lyon struck twice in his first over.

The off-spinner initially removed Dean Elgar for seven thanks to an excellent return catch and Hashim Amla soon followed for a third-ball duck, after he edged onto his pad and was caught at short leg by Cameron Bancroft.

Nathan Lyon South Africa

Lyon is closing in on 300 Test wickets. Photo: Getty

Bancroft took another catch when Aiden Markram (32) fended a Pat Cummins bouncer to him and it was then Starc’s turn to get amongst the wickets.

He removed Faf du Plessis (15) and Thesis de Bruyn (six) in similar fashion, both players edging to wicket-keeper Tim Paine.

That brought de Villiers and Quinton de Kock (20) together and they showed signs of resistance in a 42-run union.

But once de Kock fell, bowled by Lyon after he played down the wrong line, the hosts collapsed, as Starc weaved his magic with a devastating spell of reverse swing bowling at serious pace.

He first had Vernon Philander (eight) caught behind and after Josh Hazlewood (1-31 off 13) dismissed Keshav Maharaj, Starc wrapped up the job by removing Kagiso Rabida (three) and Morne Morkel (zero) in the same over.

Earlier in the day, Australia lost Paine (25) and Cummins (three) as they initially struggled to keep the score ticking over.

The arrival of Starc at the crease changed that, with the left-hander thrashing four fours and two sixes in a 25-ball 35.

Starc fell just before lunch to the impressive Maharaj (5-123 off 33.4) but Marsh got to work after the break, batting well with Lyon (12) as he closed in on a third Test century.

His patient innings, littered with boundaries after sustained spells of defiance, ended on 96, though, when he mis-hit a lofted on-drive and picked out Morkel.

It was a cruel dismissal, as Marsh deserved a hundred, and Lyon fell in the next over after slogging a couple of boundaries.

But the tail’s work in helping Australia well beyond 300 looks crucial, with Steve Smith’s men now holding a 189-run lead after the first innings.

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