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South Africa vs. Australia odds, tips & specials – First Test

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    First Test - SAF vs. AUS

    • Series odds

      South Africa: $2.62 at Sportsbet
      Australia: $2.20 at Sportsbet

Starts 7pm AEDT Thursday, March 1 at Kingsmead, Durban

THE end of an era looms large for South Africa.

Morne Morkel announced on Monday that the 2018 Test series against Australia would be his last.

The veteran paceman has been a mainstay of the Proteas attack for over a decade and needs only six more Test wickets to join Shaun Pollock, Allan Donald and Makaya Ntini in the 300 club.

The other member of that elite group is Dale Steyn, who will miss the start of the series as he recovers from a busted heel.

Also in doubt are middle-order lynchpins Faf du Plessis and Temba Bavuma, each with finger injuries, while AB de Villiers (knee) and Quinton de Kock (wrist) are expected to play in Durban despite lingering niggles.

Nevertheless, punters are showing plenty of faith in the hosts.

Sportsbet.com.au reports that the South Africans are drawing four times as much money as Australia.

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According to the online bookmaker, the best-backed series result is a 4-0 whitewash to the hosts at $21 odds.

“We always seem to be worried about facing the South Africans on their home soil, but we always end up beating them,” said Sportsbet’s Christian Jantzen.

“Punters are writing the Aussies off again despite the fact our boys are favourites.”

Australia arrive in Africa off the back of a rollercoaster summer of cricket.

They smashed England in the Ashes, got pantsed in the ODI games, then destroyed the Poms and the Kiwis in the T20 tri-series.

There were promising signs from the Aussie quicks in last week’s tour match as Pat Cummins (4/32) and Mitchell Starc (4/46) did some damage in either innings.

David Warner was rested for that game, but he will reclaim his opening slot at Kingsmead as the visitors revert to the XI that rounded out a 4-0 Ashes win two months ago.

South Africa vs. Australia top batsman odds

Hashim Amla

Not since the great West Indies teams of the ’70s and ’80s has there been a cooler, calmer cricketer than Hashim Amla. The 50-100 conversion rate has dipped a little of late and his record at Durban is not flash, but this – along with AB de Villiers – is the wicket the Australian bowlers will prize most.

Shaun Marsh

Remember when everybody (yes, us too) derided the selection of Shaun Marsh for the Ashes series? And remember how he won over a nation of haters with a series of excellent knocks under pressure? ‘Son of Swampy’ excels overseas and might just be the man to dig in if Australia’s top order stumbles.

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Kagiso Rabada

Before Dale Steyn went down in the India series, Kagiso Rabada was South Africa’s fourth seamer. That is all you need to know about the quality of South Africa’s pace attack. This is a young man who has snared 120 wickets in only 26 Test matches, and at a world-class average of 22.04. Watch out, Australia.

Pat Cummins

It was in South Africa six-and-a-bit years ago that Pat Cummins burst into Test cricket with a six-wicket haul on debut. Steve Smith used him as an enforcer against England, but the NSW speedster has so much more to offer when given licence to pitch up and draw shots. He is also in excellent touch with the bat.

Who wins – South Africa or Australia?

The home side is drawing all the money ahead of the Kingsmead Test, but why? The Proteas have not won there since 2008 and have copped some almighty floggings from Aussie batsmen along the way. The absence of Steyn, who always stars at Durban, puts this one in the visitors’ favour.

Top tip: Australia to win and highest opening partnership (+270 at William Hill)