Australia's dominance over South Africa in the Proteas' backyard continued as the visitors registered a comprehensive 118-run win in the opening Test match at the Kingsmead Stadium in Durban. Australia are the only team to have never lost a Test series in South Africa, since the later's readmission. The Proteas though are keen to change that record under captain Faf du Plessis and will have to bounce back in the second Test. While there were several key contributions in the opening Test of the series, the performance of two bowlers stood out.
Australian paceman Mitchell Starc ended the match with 9 wickets and was instrumental in turning the tide in the Baggy Greens' favour. The left-arm pacer picked up 5 wickets in the first innings, dismantling the middle and lower order of the hosts to help Steven Smith's team take a sizeable lead. He then returned to pick up four wickets in the second innings to lead the visitors to a comfortable victory. An exponent of reverse swing, the lanky left-armer was virtually unplayable with the old ball.
As a result of this performance, Starc became the first Australian left-arm paceman to pick up a 5-for at Durban. During this spell he picked up his last three wickets in span of 8 balls. Similarly, in the 2nd innings, Starc took 4 wickets out of which 3 wickets came in a single over at the end of Day 4.
Starc ended with match figures of 9/109, which are the third-best bowling figures by an Australian left-arm pacer in SA.
Not just Starc, another left-arm bowler did well in the opening Test but ended up on the wrong side of the result. South African spinner Keshav Maharaj spun a web around the Aussie batsmen and also ended the match with 9 wickets in his kitty.
Maharaj picked up a 5-for in the first innings and thus became the first left-arm spinner to take a 5-wicket haul in the first innings of Test at Durban. This was Maharaj’s fourth 5 wicket haul and his most expensive in an innings.
He returned to pick up four wickets in the second innings and as a result ended the match with career best figures of 9/225. This in turn is the second best performance by a left-arm spinner at Durban.
So, it was clearly a case of left being right at the Kingsmead Stadium as both these bowlers stole the show in the opening Test