Lyon turns 1st test Australia’s way after M. Marsh’s 96

March 2, 2018

Australia's Cameron Bancroft, right, takes a catch to dismiss South Africa's batsman Hashim Amla‚ as bowler Nathan Lyon, reacts on day two of the first cricket test match between South Africa and Australia at Kingsmead stadium in Durban, South Africa, Friday, March 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — Spinner Nathan Lyon turned the first test Australia’s way with two wickets in his first five balls to leave South Africa 55-3 at tea on Day 2 of the first test on Friday.

Lyon, on as early as the eighth over of South Africa’s first innings, removed Dean Elgar caught and bowled off the second ball he bowled, and Hashim Amla for a duck caught at short leg off the fifth ball he sent down.

Those immediate strikes for Australia’s off-spinner put the tourists in command after they escaped from 177-5 on Day 1 to push their way up to 351 all out in their first innings.

The comeback with the bat was largely down to Mitchell Marsh, who made 96 from No. 6 and anchored three significant lower-order partnerships to lift the Aussies to a decent total.

The slow surface was expected to suit spin, but not as dramatically as it did in Lyon’s sensational first over.

Elgar was beaten by turn to spoon a catch back to Lyon, who took it two-handed diving to his left. Three balls later, Amla popped a catch to close fielder Cameron Bancroft and South Africa was 27-2. Aiden Markram fell to quick bowler Pat Cummins for 32 to end the second session.

Earlier, Marsh fell four short of a century when he was caught at mid-on trying to hit over the top of the infield to get to three figures, and a second straight test hundred. But despite that personal disappointment, his innings lifted Australia to a solid first total of the four-match series.

Marsh put on 60 with Tim Paine for the sixth wicket, 49 with Mitchell Starc for the eighth wicket, and 41 with Lyon for the ninth wicket. Australia’s last five batsmen added 174, nearly as much as the 177 made by the top five.

David Warner (51) and Steve Smith (56) both made half-centuries on Day 1, and Shaun Marsh made 40, but none of them went on to a big score as the Aussies were initially kept in check until Mitchell Marsh’s late advance.

Mitchell Marsh was the second-last wicket to fall as he hit up in the air to mid-on and Morne Morkel reached up to hold onto the catch, giving seamer Vernon Philander his third wicket. Lyon was out an over later for 12 to wrap up Australia’s innings.

South African spinner Keshav Maharaj took 5-123.

Australia lost Paine and Cummins early on the second day to the second new ball, and then Starc to the last delivery before lunch.

South Africa pacer Kagiso Rabada made early use of the new ball to have Paine caught behind for 25 and end his overnight partnership of 60 with Marsh. Australia had added just 12 runs to its overnight score when Paine edged to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.

Cummins was bowled by Maharaj for three 10 overs later. Starc fell for a breezy 35 off 25 balls, also clean bowled by Maharaj.

Marsh went on to 60 not out at lunch after having survived a low caught and bowled chance to Rabada when he was on 42. If Rabada had taken the sharp catch down near his ankles as he followed through, Australia would have slipped to 244-7 and Marsh would have been back in the dressing room.

He didn’t, and Marsh took the Aussies on and well beyond 300.

Marsh hit 13 fours and a six and he nearly followed up on a century in his last test innings, against England in the final match of the Ashes. Starc also gave Australia some momentum on the second day by striking four fours and two big slog-sweeps for six over wide long-on off Maharaj in a rapid innings that was out of kilter with the subdued pace of the pitch.

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