What a waste, Proteas

2014-02-21 10:31

South Africa: 214/5 (Elgar 83, Du Plessis 55, De Villiers 51*, Lyon 2/47, Harris 1/36, Johnson 1/44)

South Africa wasted a precious opportunity to get ahead of Australia on the first day of the test, losing wickets at crucial junctures of the match.

The chief “destroyers” were Nathan Lyon and Steve Smith, who got rid of the set batsmen Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis while Quinton de Kock’s nerves got the better of him, skying an innocuous Steven Smith delivery to Moises Henriques at mid-off.

On a cloudy but batting day, South Africa should have scored more than they had but Australia reverted to the age-old line-and-length delivery adage and it was effective in drying up the runs.

Not at any stage did the home side come close to scoring 100 runs in a session, something Australia had managed three times in Pretoria.

South Africa won the toss and elected to bat first and were 11/2 early doors.

Graeme Smith was trapped in front by a superb Ryan Harris inswinger while Hashim Amla lasted only two balls, trapped in front by Mitchell Johnson for a duck.

Once again South Africa lost early wickets but Du Plessis and Elgar showed resolve and put together a 112-run partnership for the third wicket.

It wasn’t game-changing stuff but it was enough to show that the Proteas had some fight after the Pretoria debacle.

Both batsmen fell to soft dismissals, Du Plessis chipping to Steven Smith at short leg off Lyon while Elgar skied the same bowler to David Warner at cover. It was crucial momentum lost by the Proteas at a crucial time.

De Kock did not last too long but there was time for another De Villiers special, racking up his 12th consecutive score of 50 or more in 12 test matches.

Australia’s bowlers came to the party on an unfamiliar track and did not lose any of the spite they had from Pretoria, even though they were far less menacing.

Their modus operandi was run limitation and after 83 overs, it was good work from them. They still have the option of the new ball in the morning, which will make things very interesting.

» Plays of the day

Look who’s playing

Michael Clarke was up bright and early waiting for the toss but Graeme Smith was taking his sweet time to get to the middle.

While he was walking there, team manager Mohammed Moosajee made countless alterations to the team sheet while Smith wandered to Vernon Philander, who was under an injury cloud in the morning.

Smith eventually tossed and announced the news that De Kock would be making his test debut.

Scoreboard sonogram

It was De Kock’s test debut but trust the scoreboard to remind him of that. A foetus appeared on the board with the words: “Hi, I am making my test debut.”

Milestone shot of the day

AB de Villiers is already the first batsman in test history to compile 12 scores of 50 and over in 12 consecutive test matches.

He also crossed the 7 000 run barrier, becoming the fourth South African batsman to do so.

The shot to get there, a trademark flick off the hips, was a thing of beauty and arguably the shot of the day.

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