Australia can begin Test series in South Africa with a win
Tough opener Elgar value to top Proteas run charts
Sky Sports Cricket, 8am Thursday
Australia have won their last two March Tests at Kingsmead and they look worth a wager to begin their intriguing four-match series in South Africa with another victory in Durban.
The Baggy Greens have managed the workload of all their stars since winning the Ashes 4-0 and while the Proteas have won their last five home five-day series including this year's battles with India, they have a ropey recent record in KwaZulu-Natal of five defeats in seven. As well as the Aussies, England have won on their last two visits to Durban.
Australia's brilliant batsmen David Warner and Steve Smith were linchpins of a 2-1 2014 series success in the Rainbow Nation and while curators are rumoured to be taking the pace out of their pitches to negate the effectiveness of ace Australia quicks Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, that may only increase the potency of top-notch off-spinner Nathan Lyon. India's twirlers caused havoc in the Proteas' ranks in their ODI series and Moeen Ali picked up key wickets in England's 2015-16 series success.
Slow pitches will also negate the sharpness of South Africa's own high-quality seam, speed and swing trio Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander.
Three of the hosts' key batsmen - AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock - have had limited time at the crease due to injuries while another top-order talisman Hashim Amla struggled for runs in the 5-1 ODI series loss to India and opener Aiden Markram is yet to fully prove himself against the best new red-ball attacks.
All those factors make a bet on Dean Elgar being the top South African series runscorer appeal. Opener Elgar hit five Test tons last year and carried his bat with 86 not out in defeat against India in Johannesburg after being hit on the head.
Australia to win first Test
2pts 13-10 bet365
D Elgar top South Africa series runscorer
1pt 9-2 Hills, Ladbrokes
Follow us on Twitter @racingpostsport
Like us on Facebook RacingPostSport