De Kock lets the world know how he feels about scoring fourth Test ton
There was a yelp 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 has 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 the century yesterday showed that he does. As did the way he showed his appreciation to the crowd after he was dismissed.
Yesterday’s innings meant a lot to De Kock.
In the two years between Test centuries, 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 of 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 marshal the Proteas’ tail, getting the hosts a lead in that match.
De Kock and Hashim Amla had shared a stand of 102 for the sixth wicket on Saturday night, 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 tourist’s first 50 partnership for the first wicket of the series.
A spell of high-quality fast bowling from Steyn put a halt to Pakistani optimism when he removed both of them.
Azhar Ali’s miserable tour concluded when he was bombed out by Duanne Olivier – the fourth time that has happened in the series – and despite some lovely batting from Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam in the last half hour, the task remains an arduous one if they are to end the series with a consolation win today.