Saturday, 4 December 2021

Toothless tigers run into South African top-order on Day 1


CAPE TOWN: South Africa made runs while the sun shone in Bloemfontein on Friday‚ and a good thing too what with heavy rain forecast for Saturday morning.

They were 428/3 at stumps on the first day of the second test against Bangladesh‚ South Africa’s joint second-highest score on a first day‚ and an effort that leaned heavily on a pair of centuries by openers Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram.

Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis will resume on Saturday on 89 and 62. At least they will once the groundstaff deal with the aftermath of the 80% chance of rain predicted between 6am and 10am — the scheduled start of play.

If that sounds as if the weather is a greater impediment to South Africa earning a 2-0 series win‚ that’s because it is.

The Bangladeshis were outplayed‚ from the moment they declined to take guard on a fine batting pitch despite having won the toss.

Then the runs began rolling in: 126 by lunch‚ another 130 in the second session‚ and 172 between tea and stumps.

And for all that trouble the visitors had only those three wickets.

It didn’t seem a fair contest‚ especially while Elgar and Markram were apparently doing as they wished against opponents who appeared powerless to stop them.

They were separated in the third over before tea when Elgar‚ perhaps bored‚ top-edged to fine leg off medium pacer Subashis Roy for 113.

The catcher was Mustafizur Rhaman‚ who had Elgar dropped by wicketkeeper Liton Das when he was 109.

Elgar took guard needing 16 runs to become the first South African to reach 1000 tests runs in a year since Amla in 2012.


He reached the landmark with the last ball of the fourth over‚ a delivery from Subashis that he drove through mid-on for four.

Then Elgar set about repairing the damage he caused by running out Markram for 97 on his debut in Potchefstroom in the first test.

But first Elgar‚ test cricket’s most prolific batsman this year‚ would score his own century‚ the 10th of his career and his fifth of 2017‚ which he sealed with a downright elegant off-drive for four off Taijul Islam.

Three overs later Markram had the first ton of his test career by way of a mow through the on side off Rubel Hossain. He was out in the third over after tea‚ yorked by Hossain for 143.

Excellent though the batting of Elgar and Markram was‚ it’s difficult to judge their performances objectively because Bangladesh’s bowling was toothless.

That means Temba Bavuma will be livid with himself for being caught behind off Subashis with a miserable seven to his name.

Bavuma’s error stuck out like nearby Naval Hill on a South Africa scorecard that reflected the seriousness with which Du Plessis’ batsmen took up his exhortation‚ delivered to the press on Thursday‚ that he wanted South Africa to dominate Bangladesh.

With Amla and Du Plessis set to resume on Saturday with their partnership worth 140‚ that is likely to continue.

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