Mak­ing marks, but still miss­ing the mile­stones

Business Day - - SPORT - Liam Del Carme

It was a day in which mini mile­stones drifted tan­ta­lis­ingly close‚ only to avoid cap­ture.

Not that Quin­ton de Kock or Hashim Amla would nec­es­sar­ily have been aware of what was pal­pa­bly within reach.

As a dash­ing bot­tom mid­dle or­der bats­man it is of­ten said of De Kock he has been be­stowed pow­ers to take matches away from the op­po­si­tion.

If that makes him sound like a one-man In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil Fu­ture Tours Pro­gramme com­mit­tee‚ you would be re­lieved to hear he is a fas­tid­i­ous “one game at a time” kind of fella. Al­most to a fault.

On Sun­day morn­ing when De Kock re­sumed his in­nings‚ Pak­istan were al­ready in dan­ger of be­ing re­moved from the con­test‚ but at least they had hope.

For the next three hours and 10 min­utes De Kock did not so much take the match away from Pak­istan‚ as take it to a dis­tant‚ far away land‚ a place not even their pres­i­dent could help them lo­cate‚ let alone reach.

De Kock com­piled 129 and helped set the vis­i­tors a daunt­ing vic­tory tar­get of 381. Is­lam­abad seems nearer.

The cen­tury proved a per­sonal tri­umph for De Kock who got edgy‚ al­most iras­ci­ble as he ap­proached the mile­stone.

He had gone 37 Test in­nings with­out scor­ing a ton and he was un­der­stand­ably keen to im­press at a ground where his pre­vi­ous high was a mod­est 34. When he reached 98 he punched the ball to the right of mid wicket in the hope of com­plet­ing two. How­ever‚ two field­ers de­scended on the ball like a gull on a chip.

De Kock was also de­nied in the first five balls of the next over but he punched the last past the bowler for four be­fore jump­ing into the air fol­lowed by what looked to be a fist pump more in re­lief than joy. He looked set for a big ton and the only con­cern was whether he would run out of part­ners, but Kag­iso Rabada ini­tially played with com­mend­able re­straint at the other end.

De Kock hit a six onto the grass em­bank­ment to equal his joint high­est score in Test cricket and per­haps un­aware of the loom­ing mile­stone he tried to clear the fence again but he held out to deep back­ward square leg off Shadab Khan.

Ear­lier De Kock reached his 15th Test 50 off just 49 balls in the com­pany of Hashim Amla who was show­ing some vin­tage touches of his own. Amla struck 14 fours in his 71 and he would have been gut­ted at not go­ing fur­ther. He would have been es­pe­cially dis­ap­pointed to learn that he came within four runs of be­com­ing the most pro­lific batsmen in Tests at this ground.

He fell just short of Jac­ques Kal­lis’s 1,148 and who knows if he will get an­other op­por­tu­nity to set a new mark.

If the South Africans did not take the op­por­tu­nity to es­tab­lish new mile­stones‚ Pak­istan cap­tain Sar­fraz Ahmed grabbed his with both hands. When he caught Duanne Olivier to bring the SA in­nings to a close his 10 dis­missals in the match be­came his coun­try’s new land­mark.

Hashim Amla

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