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Aussies tweak plans to combat De Villiers

Australia and South Africa re-assess how to handle AB de Villiers and Mitchell Starc respectively ahead of second Test

Australia will look to tweak their bowling plans for Proteas star AB de Villiers after his lone stand in the first innings of the series opener in Durban.

De Villiers scored a sparkling 71 not out on the second day as South Africa’s middle and lower order collapsed to leave the home side in a position from which they could never recover in the 118-run defeat.

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With South Africa facing a monumental run chase of 417 on day four, the Australians couldn’t believe their luck when they had de Villiers run out for a duck after a horror mix-up with opener – and eventual century-maker – Aiden Markram.

The shock dismissal left their unlikely run chase in tatters as the tourists celebrated with gusto, while Nathan Lyon was fined 15 per cent of his match fee and handed a demerit point for dropping the ball and hitting de Villiers on the chest after completing the run out.


Steve Smith is bracing for a rebound innings from the 34-year-old, with the Australian skipper hoping to limit the South African's renowned 360-degree scoring capabilities.

"I thought he played beautifully last week for his 70-odd," Smith told reporters in Port Elizabeth.

"He's got good plans. I think for us it's just about ensuring that we're challenging his defence as much as we can, being nice and disciplined and trying to get him pretty quiet.

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"Make him work hard for his runs and on this wicket probably the shortest way home is going to be at the stumps, with not much bounce and not much pace.

"Targeting the stumps and straight fields, make him work hard for his runs."

While Australia work on their plans for South Africa’s batting dynamo, the home side must come up with a way to nullify the impact of pace ace Mitchell Starc and the reverse swing that skittled their lower order in the first Test.

Both teams are expecting reverse swing to again be a major factor when the second Test begins in Port Elizabeth on Friday after Starc proved just how dangerous he can be when the old ball starts hooping the other way.

Sizzling Starc skittles Proteas with five-fa

The lethal left-armer claimed nine wickets in a player-of-the-match performance and was the catalyst behind late collapses of 5-12 and 5-15 in each innings.

Starc has been given the nickname 'The Mop' for his ability to clean up the lower order and six of his nine scalps in the first Test were batters No.8 through to No.11.

And Proteas coach Ottis Gibson has put the onus on his top order to take the pressure off the tail.

"Obviously Starc was the difference ... in Durban," Gibson said at St. George’s Park on Wednesday.

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"Often you do a lot of homework on a guy and then he has a special day or game like he did against us and that can happen.

"Hopefully we’ll be better prepared for him this time around.

"In the second innings when our best batters were facing him – not that he wasn’t a threat – but the threat wasn’t as great as when our lower order batters were facing him.

"So our top order batters have to bat a lot better."

Qantas tour of South Africa

Australia XI: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood

South Africa XI: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (c), Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi

Qantas tour of South Africa

South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.

Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights

First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard

Second Test St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13. Live coverage

Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage

Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage