ELGAR, DE KOCK LEAD RIPOSTE
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Visakhapatnam: It must be a one-off that three different openers scored a century on the first three days of a Test. If Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal had lit up proceedings on the first two days of the Test at the ACAVDCA Stadium, it was Dean Elgar’s turn on Friday.
In scoring his 12th Test century and his first against India, the southpaw not only thwarted the Indian attack on the third day after he resumed at 27, but his 160 (287b; 18x4, 6x4) took South Africa from a perilous 39/3 to a comfortable 385/8. Quinton de Kock also joined the party, scoring his fifth Test century (111; 163b, 16x4, 6x2).
That the Indians bowled like millionaires with 502/7 declared in the bank should take nothing away from the effort of the 32-year-old opener from Free State province, as his two century partnerships with skipper Faf du Plessis and de Kock made the Indian attack look just as listless as the inexperienced South African spin troika on the first two days.
Temba Bavuma was the only one to miss out on some runs. The Proteas came out with a plan to centre their batting around Elgar and executed it well, with du Plessis and de Kock playing stellar support roles in keeping the Indian attack at bay.
Bavuma was trapped in front by an Ishant Sharma delivery that jagged back in, but India’s joy was short-lived as Elgar and du Plessis (55; 103b, 8x4, 6x1) took South Africa to lunch at 153 for four. Their 115-run fifth-wicket partnership put South Africa on a sound footing and Elgar consolidated his team’s position by reaching his century in 175 deliveries in the company of de Kock, as the duo realised 164 for the sixth wicket.
That the South African innings was laced with 48 boundaries and seven sixers – Elgar and de Kock reached the milestone with a six each — is an indication of the way the visiting side dominated the Indian attack, which was totally off-colour. It didn’t help that barring the morning session, they bowled only in short bursts.
The second new ball was taken after 80 overs and made little difference to the South Africans. The two lefthanders played well within themselves but wasted no opportunity to score. And score they did, at a frenetic pace, with Ashwin and Jadeja leaking more than a hundred runs each.
It took a splendid catch from Cheteshwar Pujara – running in from the mid-wicket fence – to give Jadeja his 200th Test wicket, but he could’ve got to the milestone much earlier had Wriddhiman Saha not reprieved Elgar when the batsman was on 74.
The opener had done well to foil Indian designs in the company of de Kock as South Africa added 139 runs in 37 overs between lunch and tea. The ‘rough’ Keshav Maharaj was so wary of on Thursday hardly came into play
It was a brilliant counter by the South African batsmen, who were not afraid to go down the wicket to negate the Indian spinners. The visitors have, incidentally, hired the services of Amol Muzumdar as batting coach. The spinners apart, Vihari and Rohit Sharma were tried too. Dean Elgar’s centuries’ tally is the third highest by a batsman who started his Test career with a pair, behind Graham Gooch (20) & Marvan Atapattu (16).
Elgar made a pair on debut vs Australia in Perth in 2012-13.
D Elgar c Pujara b Jadeja 160, A Markram b Ashwin 5, TB de Bruyn c Saha b Ashwin 4, D
Piedt b Jadeja 0, T Bavuma lbw Ishant 18, F du Plessis c Pujara b Ashwin 55, Q de Kock b Ashwin 111, S Muthusamy (batting) 12, V Philander b Ashwin 0, K Maharaj (batting) 3. lb4, nb5) Ravindra Jadeja is the tenth Indian bowler to reach 200 Test wickets. He has taken 44 Tests, the quickest by a left-arm bowler. Overall, he is the second-quickest Indian bowler after Ashwin (37).
Playing in India is very tough. The last time I was here, I was very inexperienced. In these four years, I have grown a lot as a cricketer. I have played county cricket with Surrey, which has helped. You need to defend well against spinners, because then you give yourself the best chance of attacking.”
Sixes hit by openers in the ongoing Vizag Test, a world record. THE OPPOSITION STANDS TALL: South Africa’s Quinton de Kock survives a run-out attempt by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha in Vizag on Friday is the second South African wicketkeeper to post a century against India. The first was AB de Villiers (103 in Johannesburg in Dec 2013). India (1st Innings): 502/7 decl South Africa (1st Innings): Extras: (b8, 17; Total: (8 wkts, 117 overs): 385; FoW: 1-14, 2-31, 3-34, 4-63, 5-178, 6-164, 7-370, 8-376; Bowling: Ishant 14-2-44-1, Shami 15-3-40-0, Ashwin 41-11128-5, Jadeja 37-4-116-2, Vihari 9-1-38-0, Rohit 2-1-7-0