De Kock leads the way for SA

Keeper shows how much it means to him

Daily News - - SPORT - STU­ART HESS @shock­er­hess

DAY 3 OF 5:

South Africa 262 and 303 Pakistan 185 and 153/3

QUINTON de Kock’s not given to shows of ex­treme ex­u­ber­ance.

Dale Steyn can do a ‘chain­saw’ when he gets a wicket, Kag­iso Rabada can let the bats­man know he’s got him out. De Kock’s qui­eter. Ex­cept yes­ter­day when he let the world know just how he felt about his fourth Test hun­dred.

There was a yell of ‘YEEAAAHHH!!’ a big leap, a big fist pump and a hug from one of his clos­est mates, Rabada, who had ear­lier, in­ad­ver­tently blocked a sin­gle that would have taken him from 99 to 100.

It’s been two years since a score­board in a Test match last flashed 100 next to De Kock’s name. Given his in­no­cently blithe out­look it can ap­pear that De Kock doesn’t think much of land­marks. How­ever his cel­e­bra­tion of his hun­dred yes­ter­day showed that he did.

As did the way he showed his ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the crowd af­ter he was dis­missed. This in­nings meant a lot to De Kock.

In the two years be­tween Test hun­dreds, De Kock has still man­aged to pro­duce cru­cial in­nings for the Proteas.

There was the 91 at the Basin Re­serve in Welling­ton against New Zealand two years ago, an in­nings that de­liv­ered South Africa from a pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion of 94/6, pro­vid­ing the foun­da­tion for a se­ries clinch­ing win.

There was a 68 in the first in­nings against Eng­land at Trent Bridge in 2017, a suc­cess, but part of a larger se­lec­tion fail­ure on the part of the Proteas then des­per­ate to fill the hole at No 4 left by AB de Vil­liers’ ab­sence.

His 83 in the Dur­ban Test against Aus­tralia last year was for­got­ten in the wake the stair­well drama with David Warner, but it was a cru­cial in­nings in show­ing the tourists that South Africa could play dirty too.

In this se­ries his 45 in the first in­nings of the first Test helped mar­shall the Proteas tail, get­ting the hosts a lead in that match.

It’s not as if he’s not added value with his bat. But it’s grated with him, that he hasn’t got­ten three fig­ures. He’s made seven half-cen­turies, and 13 sin­gle digit scores in 38 in­nings be­tween the 101 he scored against Sri Lanka in the New Year’s Test at New­lands in 2017, and yes­ter­day’s 129.

Play­ers with that kind of tal­ent de­mand more of them­selves, hence the frus­tra­tion, and ul­ti­mately the bois­ter­ous cel­e­bra­tion.

De Kock and Hashim Amla had shared a stand of 102 for the sixth wicket, it had started amidst a rau­cous at­mos­phere on Satur­day evening, and con­cluded in front of a more sub­dued crowd yes­ter­day morn­ing.

Nev­er­the­less the ef­fect on the match has been pro­found. South Africa set Pakistan a tar­get of 381.

Al­though the odd ball is fly­ing past the out­side edge, the pitch is still largely play­ing true and Shan Ma­sood and Imam ul-Haq reg­is­tered the tourists’ first 50 part­ner­ship for the first wicket of the se­ries.

A spell of high qual­ity from Steyn put a halt to Pak­istani op­ti­mism when he re­moved both of them al­though Ma­sood seemed per­plexed by tele­vi­sion re­plays in­di­cat­ing the ball had found the in­side edge of his bat on its way through to De Kock.

Azhar Ali’s mis­er­able tour con­cluded when he was bombed out by Duanne Olivier – the fourth time that’s hap­pened in the se­ries – and de­spite some lovely bat­ting from Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam in the last half an hour, the task re­mains an ar­du­ous one if they are to end this se­ries with a con­so­la­tion win to­day.

QUINTON de Kock cel­e­brates his fourth Test cen­tury dur­ing the third day of the third Test be­tween South Africa and Pakistan at the Wan­der­ers yes­ter­day. | Back­pagepix

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