Wed, Mar 7, 1:26pm by Staff Writer
Australia take a 1-0 lead to St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Friday after a 118 run win in the first of four test matches in Durban against South Africa.
After a dominant display with bat and ball in the first innings, Australia were hardly troubled in their victory, with Mitchell Starc named man of the match with nine wickets.
This is a must-win match for South Africa if they hope to win the best of four match series, with plenty of feeling between the two sides after some personal sledging towards David Warner from South African Quinton de Kock fired up both teams.
In the head-to-head market Australia are firm favourites at $1.92 at Sportsbet with the hosts at $2.70. The draw is paying $5.35 and with fine conditions expected for the duration of the test match, a drawn test is unlikely.
The pitch for the first test was not the dry and hard, almost WACA-like pitch that Australia has come to expect from South Africa, which was to the advantage of the Australian bowlers.
While South Africa’s batting wasn’t up to scratch in the first innings, their bowlers struggled in both innings to curtail Australian batsmen, and will be hoping for a friendlier, more suited pitch in the second test.
In the first innings top runscorer market, Australian captain Steve Smith leads the way at $3.25 at Sportsbet, with opener David Warner second in line at $4.33.
Warner has been subject to much controversy this week after the vice captain was seen to have a heated exchange with South African Quinton de Kock.
How Warner will respond is anyone’s guess, but at $4.33 he provides some value in that market.
For the hosts, A.B. de Villiers single handedly saved South Africa from total embarrassment in the first innings, notching 71 of the teams 162 runs.
He did score a duck in the second innings though, so is a risky pick at $4.33 in the top South African runscorer market for the first innings.
After his century in Durban, Aiden Markram is priced at $4.50 to be the Proteas highest run scorer in the first innings at Sportsbet.
Mitchell Starc leads the way at $2.88 in the top Australian wicket taker in the first innings, with Josh Hazlewood at $4 and Nathan Lyon at $4.50 at Sportsbet.
Starc had a sensational first test, which included a match-winning five first innings wickets.
The South African bowling attack barely got going in Durban, with Morne Morkel and Keshav Maharaj looking the most likely to snare wickets.
Vernon Philander at $4 leads the market at Sportsbet to take the most first innings wickets for South Africa along with Kagiso Rabada and we like the right-arm quick in this market.
Look out for man of the match markets live on Sportsbet as the test match gets under way, with Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc sure to lead the way.
Over five days Australia should be too strong for South Africa, who have shown vulnerabilities in both their batting and bowling lineups.
Best bet: Australia to win at $1.92 at Sportsbet
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