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South Africa's twin collapses make the difference

How South Africa's lower order folded in Durban ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Twin collapses hurt South Africa
The major difference between South Africa and Australia in the Durban Test was the runs - or the lack of it - from the tail-enders. While both teams had similar contributions from their top six, the last four wickets returned contrasting numbers. South Africa's first six wickets added 433 runs and Australia's 412 runs. Meanwhile, the hosts' last four wickets combined for only 27 runs compared to Australia's 166 runs.


In the first innings, South Africa collapsed from 150 for 5 to 162 all out while in the second innings they went from 283 for 5 to 298 all out. The 27 runs added by last four wickets (seventh to tenth) is the lowest for South Africa in any Test since readmission and their third lowest ever. In fact, since 2000, there have been only three instances of a team's last-four wickets adding fewer runs than South Africa's 27 in this match.


Starc breathes fire Mitchell Starc's swing and pace blew away South Africa's tail in both innings. He removed Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada in both innings and eventually finished with 9 for 109 - the third best match haul by an Australia bowler in South Africa since 1992. He bagged six lower-order wickets and three top-order wickets. Starc has been lethal against tail-enders (Nos. 8 to 11). In fact, 31% of his Test wickets are tail-enders.

Markram makes his mark
Aiden Markram's fighting 143 was the innings of the match. This was the third-highest score by a South Africa batsman in the fourth innings of a Test, and the second highest by any batsman when chasing in South Africa since their readmission. Apart from Markram, the only previous century in chases in Durban since 1992 was Herschelle Gibbs' 104, which had also come against Australia in 2001-02.

Markram's innings turned out to be the fifth highest in an unsuccessful chase in Tests. Nathan Astle's 222 and Kumar Sangakkara's 192 are the only two higher fourth-innings scores in vain in last 40 years. This was only the fourth century in an unsuccessful chase for South Africa and only the second since their readmission; Dean Elgar's 136 at The Oval last year being the other.