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Mitchell Starc best in the world, says Mitchell Marsh

Mitchell Starc best in the world, says Mitchell Marsh

But Starc scuppered home hopes of restricting Australia to under 300 on a slow, batting-friendly wicket, hitting some lusty blows for a rapidfire 35 runs off 25 balls before Maharaj bowled him in the last over before lunch.

David Warner and Australia captain Steve Smith stabilised the innings with a 56-run partnership, during which Warner brought up his half-century.

Marsh batted cautiously to be on 60 not out off 147 balls at lunch, seeing off the second new ball, before adding another 36 runs off only 26 balls after the interval.

"I like to go under the radar". "I have never heard anything like it", Greig said in 2006.

With Smith's parry and thrust, and Shaun Marsh's watchful defence, it looked like a continuation of Australia's Ashes approach would see a recovery from 3 for 95.

Australia escaped from trouble the Ashes victor was 177-5 on day one to push its way up to 351 all out in its first innings, with the comeback largely down to Marsh and the three significant lower-order partnerships he anchored.

In between the DRS drama, Bancroft was dismissed for five, caught behind off the metronomic Philander after taking two steps towards the bowler, a proactive move he had practiced in the nets but one that didn't pay off in his maiden Test innings on foreign soil.

Nor was Kagiso Rabada's threat muted by the lack of pace, for he provides his own, interspersing Philander's wickets by seaming a ball viciously across the left-handed Usman Khawaja to draw an outside edge for 14.

Philander returned after the main break to complete a seven-over spell that - in all - produced five maidens, eight runs, the wicket of Warner and a dropped chance of Smith by de Villiers, a hard one at third slip that only just carried to the fielder.

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It was unfortunate that less than 4,000 people were at Kingsmead for the opening skirmish of this series, which doesn't involve top-ranked India yet feels like a battle between the best teams in the world.

South Africa vs Australia is live on Sky Sports in the UK. "I wouldn't say it was a protest, I'd say it was a great opportunity to give our sponsors a bit of a plug".

Warner hit six fours when he was cramped for room and nicked the last ball of the first session from Philander to de Villiers, who fell back as he took the catch around chest-high.

Mitchell Marsh showed discipline to stick with the Australian lower order.

Four years ago, Warner was player of the series for his 543 runs and three centuries in the thrilling 2-1 victory and it didn't appear as though a day had passed since his twin hundreds at Newlands in 2014, such was the comfort he quickly found.

But he tried to cut a ball from Maharaj that was too close to him.

Ultimately it would be spin that undid the near immovable titan Smith (56) with Keshav Maharaj inducing an edge which deflected off De Kock's gloves and looped to De Villiers at slip.

Mitch Marsh played down his side's antics after play.

De Villiers said that his plan was to bat for as long as possible. The home team had no TV reviews to overturn the decision after using them both early on.