Durban Test: Mitchell Marsh 96 guides Australia to 351

By @saihoops on
Australia's tour of South Africa, Mitchell Marsh
Cricket - South Africa vs Australia - First Test Match - Kingsmead Stadium, Durban, South Africa - March 2, 2018. Australia's Mitchell Marsh plays a shot. Reuters / Rogan Ward

All-rounder Mitchell Marsh fell just four runs short of his second Test century in consecutive innings on Friday as Australia were dismissed for 351 on Day 2 of the first Test match against South Africa at Kingsmead, Durban. The visitors recovered from a precarious position of 177/5 to post a respectable total on a bowler-friendly surface.

When Shaun Marsh, the older brother of Mitchell Marsh, fell after the tea interval on Day 1, the South African bowlers looked primed to run through Australia's lower order. However, Marsh (96) and wicketkeeper Tim Paine (25) added 60 runs for the sixth-wicket to consolidate the Aussie innings.

After Paine's dismissal, Mitchell Starc (35) and Nathan Lyon (12) made useful contributions as March anchored Australia past the 350-run mark. After Marsh and Starc added 49 runs for the eighth-wicket, Marsh and Lyon added another 41 runs for the ninth-wicket until Vernon Philander denied Marsh a century.

Durban Test: Mitchell Marsh grinds, rescues Australia

As aptly described by ESPNCricinfo, Marsh, known for his hard-hitting style, curbed his natural instincts to steer Australia out of trouble.

"Marsh struck 13 fours and one six, but also showed impressive patience during his 173-ball stay, and he looked set to become the first centurion of the series. However, eyeing a boundary to complete the hundred, he tried to clear mid-on off the bowling of Vernon Philander but picked out the tallest man in South Africa's side, Morne Morkel, who thrust his long arms above his head to pluck the catch. Had Temba Bavuma been fit and fielding there, Marsh might had his century."

Australia's tour of South Africa will comprise of four Test matches. After the first Australia vs South Africa Test at Kingsmead, the series will shift to Port Elizabeth for the second Test starting Friday, March 9. After a stop at Cape Town, the series will come to a head with the fourth and final Test match at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.