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Rampant Starc puts Australia in dominant position

Cricket

Mitchell Starc is one wicket away from capping one of his greatest performances in the baggy green with a hat-trick and 10-wicket haul.

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Starc has match figures of 9-108 in Durban, having twice busted the first Test open with a reverse-swing masterclass.

The left-armer slapped a quickfire 35 with the bat on day two then hammered home Australia’s advantage, slicing through the tail while claiming five wickets in a session.

Starc backed it up on Sunday with the opening scalp of South Africa’s second innings and a triple-wicket maiden that rocked their hopes of a miraculous victory.

Bad light meant the express paceman was denied a chance to bowl with the second new ball, but that will come on day five when the Proteas resume at 9-293 needing a further 124 runs.

Starc will be on a hat-trick when he next bowls, having skittled the stumps of tailenders Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada with consecutive deliveries.

Michael Holding suggested Starc could become the best fast bowler in the world whenever Dale Steyn retires.

“Mitchell Starc, against these lower-order batsmen, I ain’t going to blame any of them for getting bowled out like that,” Holding told ESPNcricinfo.

Statistically the greatest haul of Starc’s Test career is the 11-94 he snared against Sri Lanka in 2016 at Galle but a match-winning effort at Kingsmead against the world’s no.2 Test team in a series opener is arguably even more impressive.

“It was good fun, but this bowling unit has confidence in each other and we all complement each other really well,” Starc said after grabbing five wickets in South Africa’s first innings.

Mitch Marsh, speaking after Starc created chaos on Friday, described his teammate as “near impossible to play” when he has the old ball going reverse.

“When it’s reversing like that he’s the best in the world,” Marsh said.

Tim Paine was full of praise for Starc’s efforts on Sunday.

“He showed what he can do when the ball starts to reverse-swing,” Paine said.

“He’s such a dangerous, fast, left-arm bowler that it’s a delight to have him in your team.”

– AAP

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