Elgar silences critics

2014-07-17 00:00

WHILE all the attention was on new Protea captain Hashim Amla, it was easy to forget Dean Elgar opening the innings, filling the boots of Graeme Smith.

He walked out with Alviro Petersen and proceeded to construct his second Test century, out for 103 from 187 balls.

This follows his solid form on the South African A tour to Sri Lanka in 2010, where he quickly displayed his liking of the wickets, being the leading run-scorer with 431.

Yesterday was different though and he enjoyed the dream start to the season in the best possible way, silencing his fickle critics — for the time being anyway.

Elgar dug deep, displaying his nuggety character at the crease. “The heat is a factor and coming from a South African winter takes some adjustment,” he said.

“However, having played here before I know what to expect. It got tougher all the time I was at the crease and the bowlers made it tough to score, giving nothing away.”

An opening partnership of 70 with Petersen was followed by a 125-run effort with Faf du Plessis (80), the fourth time the combination have breached the century mark together at the wicket.

“We gel well together and I enjoy batting with him. Communication between us is good and we know what we are about,” said Elgar.

Despite a solid start and progressing beyond 200 with only three wickets down, the Proteas were pulled back by the Sri Lanka bowlers who made good use of a deteriorating wicket.

Amla (11) failed for the first time on tour after consistent performances in the three ODIs and De Villiers looked out of sorts in making 21.

Quinton de Kock (17*) has laid a solid platform from which to launch a substantial knock in his second Test and with JP Duminy still to come, 400 could be a reality.

“We lost a few more wickets toward the end of play that we would have liked but the wicket did get lower and slower,” said Elgar.

“We want to bat as long as we can and we still have some useful strokeplayers to come to the crease.

“Our batting order stretches a long way down and if De Kock and JP get going, there is still Vernon [Philander] who has shown he is a more than useful batsman in the past.”

However, it could be a scenario of easier said than done. With the pitch already becoming sticky late in the first day, today will call on all the batsmen’s powers of concentration, patience and skill.

Sri Lanka called on their spinners early and they shared the bulk of the overs between them yesterday. If the Sri Lankans manage to wrap up the Protea innings early today, one shudders to think of the workload awaiting Imran Tahir, the only specialist spinner in the Protea line-up.

JP Duminy as back up will also have his work cut out for him and, while Elgar is a distant third option, he could do something with the ball having already waved his golden bat to good effect.


South Africa 1st innings

A. Petersen lbw b Perera34

D. Elgar c Chandimal b Lakmal103

F. du Plessis c Silva b Perera80

H. Amla c Perera b Herath11

AB de Villiers b Lakmal21

Q. de Kock not out17

D. Steyn not out0

Extras: (lb2)2

Total: (for 5 wickets; 91 overs)268

Still to bat: Duminy, Philander, Morkel, Tahir

Fall of wickets: 1-70 (Petersen), 2-195 (Elgar), 3-220 (Amla), 4-246 (du Plessis), 5-266 (de Villiers)

Bowling: Lakmal 16-6-29-2, Eranga 9-4-32-0, Herath 37-7-95-1, Mathews 2-0-10-0, Perera 27-3-100-2.

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