Maharaj impressive, but Aussies well on top

03 March 2018 - 15:59 By Telford Vice in Kingsmead
Keshav Maharaj of the Proteas during day 1 of the 1st Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and Australia at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on March 01, 2018 in Durban.
Keshav Maharaj of the Proteas during day 1 of the 1st Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and Australia at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on March 01, 2018 in Durban.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Keshav Maharaj became the most successful South Africa spinner in a Kingsmead test since readmission on Saturday, but he couldn’t stop Australia from taking a commanding lead in the first test.

Left-arm spinner Maharaj went to tea on the third day with match figures of 8/201.

Australia reached the interval on 175/6 in their second innings for a lead of 364.

Shaun Marsh was alone at the crease on 25 after Maharaj had Tim Paine caught at slip for 14.

Australia started their second dig on Saturday morning, and Cameron Bancroft and David Warner eased to a half-century stand.

The partnership was ended an hour into the day’s play when Warner mistimed a pull off Kagiso Rabada and picked out mid-on.

Warner’s 28 was part of a stand of 56, and his dismissal was followed five overs later by Usman Khawaja’s for six when he tried to reverse sweep Maharaj and gloved a looping catch to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.

Bancroft and Smith seemed to be settling into a lengthy partnership, but with their stand worth 37 Bancroft made an ill-advised dart down the pitch to Maharaj, who saw him coming and had him easily stumped for 53, his second half-century in his sixth test. 

The three wickets South Africa took in the morning session looks like success, but they needed to make more significant headway more efficiently against opponents who reeled in 112 runs in the 27 overs bowled.

South Africa’s bowlers were effective between lunch and tea, when Australia scored 63 runs and lost Steve Smith for 38 — he was trapped in front by the part-time left-arm spin of Dean Elgar — and Paine.

But considering the home side were dismissed for 162 in their first innings, the chances of them chasing down a target much bigger than that on a wearing pitch seem remote.

Maharaj took 3/78 in the second innings.

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