Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram, the South African opening batsmen, hit centuries to lead a dominating display by the home team in the second and final Test against Bangladesh at Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein.
South Africa ended the first day on 428 for 3 with Elgar making 113 while Markram hit 143 as Bangladesh’s bowlers took a pounding. At stumps on Friday (October 6), Hashim Amla was batting on 89, in sight of his second century of the series, while Faf du Plessis, the South African captain, was on 62 not out.
Markram’s maiden Test century came in his second game, eight days after he was run out for 97 in his debut innings during the first match in Potchefstroom. The batsman, who turned 23 on Wednesday, admitted there was “a bit of extra focus in the 90s”. If there were any nerves, Rubel Hussain helped settle them. An over-pitched delivery was punched square on the off-side for four to take Markram to 97 and he didn’t have time to dwell on the previous week’s mishap because he hooked the next ball for another boundary.
“Fortunately I hit the gaps and the outfield was nice and quick,” he said. “It hasn’t hit home yet but I am very happy to have got there, especially after what happened last week.”
In what was almost an action replay of the first day of the first Test, Mushfiqur Rahim won the toss again, and sent South Africa in to bat again, only for his bowlers to be put to the sword in a massive opening partnership.
The only major difference was that Bangladesh reshuffled their bowling attack, retaining only Mustafizur Rahman of their front-line bowlers. The replacements, however, made no significant improvement on those who had played in Potchefstroom.
Markram said, though, that he was less surprised by being asked to bat than in the first Test. “There was a bit more in the wicket and although the scoring rate doesn’t show it, they were at us quite a bit,” he offered.
Rahim defended his decision. “It was a very good wicket to bowl on early but our bowlers didn’t capitalise,” he said. “When they pitched the ball up they were driven down the ground and when they went back (of a length) they were too short. After that they tried hard and bowled well in patches.”
But although the pitch had more pace and bounce than in the previous match, it only contributed to a faster scoring rate as the ball came on to the bat better. Elgar and Markram’s partnership of 243 exceeded the 196 they put on to set up South Africa’s 333-run win in the opening match. It was the 11th instance of a 200-plus opening stand for South Africa, and the first time both openers had hit a century since 2008, when Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie accomplished the feat at Lord’s.
Elgar followed up his 199 in Potchefstroom with his tenth Test century. He made his runs off only 152 balls, with 17 fours. When he reached 16 he became the first batsman in the world to score 1,000 runs in 2017.
Neither batsman gave a chance until Elgar, on 110, gloved an attempted hook off Mustafizur. But Liton Das, the wicketkeeper, could not hold on though he leapt high and got the tips of his right glove to the ball. Ironically Mustafizur was replaced by Subashis Roy and when Elgar hooked again, Mustafizur ran in from fine leg to take a good diving catch for Bangladesh’s only success before tea.
There was a brief lull after tea when Mustafizur and Roy picked up a wicket apiece and kept the scoring under control while Amla and du Plessis were playing themselves in.
It didn’t last long though, and the pair posted a century partnership off only 111 balls.
It was a day when virtually nothing went right for Bangladesh. After a fruitless morning they went back to their dressing room to find their halal food was still on the way. The resumption of play was delayed by ten minutes to enable them to eat.
Bangladesh had already come into this Test handicapped by the absence of Tamim Iqbal because of a thigh injury, and they suffered another potential injury blow when a rare edge from Markram pitched short of Imrul Kayes at second slip and crashed into his knee.
The incident happened in mid-afternoon and Kayes did not return to the field before the close. “His knee was quite swollen. He has been having treatment and hopefully he will be okay tomorrow,” said Rahim.