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Maharaj grabs prized wicket of Australia skipper Smith

DURBAN, South Africa: Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj claimed the key wicket of Steve Smith as South Africa made good progress on the first day of the first Test at Kingsmead on Thursday. Australia were 170 for four at tea after winning the toss and batting on an easy-paced pitch. Smith scored 56 before a cut shot against Maharaj bounced off the gloves of wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock to AB de Villiers at slip.

Smith and Shaun Marsh (34 not out) were looking solid as they tried to rebuild the Australian innings after the tourists lost three wickets before lunch, putting on 56 for the fourth wicket.

South Africa claimed two early wickets but then had to work hard as David Warner (51) and Smith hit half-centuries.

Smith made his fifth consecutive Test score of 50 or more as he continued the form he showed in the Ashes series against England in which he scored 687 runs at an average of 137.40.

The Australian captain gave a half-chance on 47 when De Villiers could not hold a sharp, low catch to his left off Vernon Philander. He faced 114 balls and hit 11 fours in his innings.

Shaun Marsh had a let-off on 19 when a yorker from Kagiso Rabada struck him low down and would have hit his leg stump, according to television replays. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena gave him not out. South Africa had used up both of their reviews — also involving leg before wicket decisions by Dharmasena — and could not challenge.

Warner looked in good form before being dismissed off the last ball before lunch, when Australia were 95 for three. Warner faced 79 balls and hit six fours.

Cameron Bancroft and Usman Khawaja were both caught behind, before Warner and Smith put on 56 for the third wicket. Coming together at 39 for two, Warner and Smith both batted positively and ran well behind the wickets. — AFP

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