DEAN ELGAR and Aiden Markram provided the 11th instance of a South African opening partnership of more than 200 runs to set up the Standard Bank Proteas for a commanding opening day of the second Sunfoil Test match against Bangladesh at the Mangaung Oval on Friday. The final stand of 243 was South Africa’s eighth highest of all time and was the first instance of both opening batsmen scoring centuries since Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie shared a stand of 204 at Lord’s in 2008. Elgar, who has had a wonderful year of Test cricket, completed his 1 000 Test runs for the calendar year with 5 centuries and by scoring his 10th Test century overall, became the ninth Protea batsman to achieve a double digit total of Test centuries.
At the other end of the scale Markram made up for his near miss in the previous match with his maiden Test match century.
What was even more impressive was the run rate they established that the Proteas maintained throughout the day. Their partnership required little more than 53 overs before Elgar was dismissed (113 off 152 balls, 17 fours). Markram, in turn, went on to finish on 143 (186 balls, 22 fours) as both batsmen had strike rates well in excess of 70.
The Proteas scored 126 in the first session, 130 in the second and a further 172 in the slightly extended final session. The Proteas finished on 428/3 after once again being sent into bat with Hashim Amla (89 off 99 balls, 12 fours) and Faf du Plessis (62 off 92 balls, 6 fours) having so far added an unbroken 140 for the fourth wicket.
It was a day on which the revamped Bangladesh attack took the best part of the first two sessions to either come up with an effective strategy or employ it effectively. They eventually caused a few problems with some short-pitched bowling to a well set field but it only provided temporary relief until Amla and Du Plessis put their collective feet on the accelerator pedal. Du Plessis is now in a position to take the lead to whatever he wants, probably somewhere in the region of 600 and still give his bowlers a first assault on Bangladesh with plenty of overs still to be bowled on day two.
Apart from the runs that they put on the board the Proteas will be well pleased with a pitch with a lot more pace and bounce than its predecessor at Potchefstroom and the fact that the Bangladesh attack could use the short ball effectively suggests that the Proteas will be able to do a lot more of the same. The Proteas hit 58 boundaries on the day to give a huge boost to the Sunfoil Educational Trust (SET) fund to promote underprivileged education. It boosted the fund by R65 500, taking the total for the series so far to R290 000.