Australia aim to find an answer to counter 'fantastic' De Villiers

Mitchell Starc wants Australia to "think outside the box" against AB de Villiers after running out of ideas in the second Test against South Africa.

De Villiers made an unbeaten 126 - his 22nd Test ton but first since January 2015 - in the Proteas' first innings to set up a series-levelling victory in Port Elizabeth.

Australia struggled to work out a way to dismiss the right-hander to such an extent that captain Steve Smith ordered Starc to bowl wide of leg stump, preventing the in-form batsman from scoring.

The left-arm paceman was not too happy with the tactic, though he promises the tourists will not be so negative in the remaining two Tests.

"Look, if the captain tells me to do something I'm going to do it, aren't I?" Starc told the media when asked about Australia's leg-side policy.

"He seems to be able to play a couple of different shots to the same length ball, so your margin for error is a lot less to someone like him.

"But he's only human, so he's going to make mistakes and you're going to be able to get him out and people have before in the past and I'm pretty confident in our bowling attack. So there's no doubt we can get him out four more times in the series.

"I think you've got to think outside the box a lot more with him.

"A good ball's still a good ball to any batter in world cricket, it's just bowling them more consistently, changing the field a little bit and maybe cutting off a couple of scoring areas for him as well.

"I think that's one thing we didn't do well enough to him in the first innings [in Port Elizabeth], we didn't bowl enough good balls to him."

De Villiers has already scored 224 runs in the series, including 71 not out in the first Test when he was left high and dry by the tail.

Starc claimed nine wickets in Durban and, despite struggling to dismiss De Villiers so far, the 28-year-old feels the visiting attack has enough firepower to trouble South Africa when the series resumes in Cape Town next week.

"We feel we're pretty comfortable against the rest of their batting line-up," he added.

"I think we showed in the first Test how quickly we can go through them. He [De Villiers] was a mainstay in the first innings of that first Test as well and again in the second Test, so they rely heavily on him and there's been a few little cameos around him.

"He's a fantastic batter, there's no doubt about that and he showed again in the first innings why he's one of the best in the world.

"We've had some lengthy discussions about some plans to him, things we might have to change, but he's only human and going forward there's no doubt we can get him out."

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