Du Plessis, Elgar steady the Proteas ship

2014-02-20 13:54

South Africa: 64/2 (Du Plessis 26*, Elgar 23*, Harris 1/10, Johnson 1/15)

Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar guided the Proteas safely to lunch after Australia did their usual job of taking two early wickets.

Graeme Smith batted first on a slow and unresponsive pitch after Michael Clarke called incorrectly for the second test.

Perhaps mindful of how the SuperSport Park test match panned out, coupled with the need to lead from the front – Smith decided to brave the overcast conditions.

Three changes were made to the Proteas line-up with Dean Elgar, Wayne Parnell and Quinton de Kock coming in for Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson and Ryan McLaren.

De Kock will make his test debut having being flown in on the eve of the match as batting cover.

But leading from the front did not work too well for Graeme Smith, who struggled to cope with the sideways movement generated by Ryan Harris – one of Australia’s canniest bowlers.

After setting up Smith with controlled outswingers, he darted one back at Smith’s pads and trapped him in front for a scratchy 19-ball nine. At least he played out a full over of Mitchell Johnson, something he was unable to do in Pretoria.

It was not quite the same for Hashim Amla, whose crease examination lasted all but two balls from the fiery Johnson. He was served with a full delivery that beat him all ends up, the ball going in between his bat and off stump.

The second one was an in-ducker that had him trapped in front and, being wise with the review, Amla walked. Replays showed that it would have been a waste of a review.

It was a baptism of fire for Dean Elgar who, on test debut, was dismissed for a pair by Johnson two years ago in Perth.

It took him 19 balls to get off the mark but a 53-partnership between him and Du Plessis guided the hosts to safety and – for the first time in the series – the Proteas did not lose three wickets in a session.

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