Spin twins Harmer and Maharaj's devastating burst caps off dramatic day with Proteas in control

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Keshav Maharaj. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)
Keshav Maharaj. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)

Such is the magical nature of Test cricket that moods swing in an instant.

Sunday's fourth day of the first Test between the Proteas and Bangladesh at Kingsmead delivered changes in momentum so swift that it resembled full-on teenage temperamentality.

When Bangladesh came out to bat late in the day, chasing a tricky if hardly impossible 274, they would've been eminently confident of a maiden Test win against South Africa.

The Tigers had shown immense fighting spirit for the umpteenth time on this tour and, at times sensationally so, managed to recover from another poor first session to nab the remaining nine Proteas scalps for just 88 runs.

Given the home side's vulnerable state - they have several first-choice players missing, lost the ODI series and now had to contend with yet another batting collapse - Bangladesh surely would've sniffed blood.

But then South Africa's spin twins, Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer, produced six overs of devastation that puts their beleaguered team back in the driving seat with the final day looming.

The duo took three wickets, leaving the visitors reeling on 11/3 when bad light ended the day.

Harmer had Shadman Islam caught at slip with a classic dismissal where the ball drifted and turned away, before Maharaj - unlucky to go wicket-less in the first innings - first castled Tigers batting hero Mahmudul Hasan Joy with a straight one and then trapped captain Mominul in front with a quicker one.

It was a deflating way for an excellent day in general to end for Bangladesh.

On the ropes at lunch - the Proteas were ahead by 174 having lost only one wicket - the Tigers were typically determined to dismiss the Proteas for 204.

Concerningly for the home side, it reaffirmed the fact that their batting remains alarmingly prone to collapses.

LIVE | Proteas v Bangladesh, 1st Test, day 4

Once skipper Dean Elgar (64) and Keegan Petersen's (36) second wicket partnership of 68 was broken, Bangladesh steadily chipped away at the order's brittle confidence.

Elgar, who admittedly had lived a charmed life, was struck in front to a Taskin Ahmed delivery that kept low.

Umpire Marais Erasmus - who's had 5 decisions overturned to date in what has been an indifferent showing - was unmoved, but Bangladesh's review was successful.

It was a vital intervention from Taskin, who's been laid low by a shoulder injury to his bowling arm and has only been used in short bursts in between treatments.

Shortly afterwards, Petersen meekly turned marathon man Mehidy Hasan Miraz straight to short-leg, though it must be said that the right-hander was probably fouled by the delivery sticking a bit to the surface.

Temba Bavuma fell victim to a magnificent grab at slip by Yasir Ali, acrobatically holding on low down after the batter got a thick edge to a fine angled delivery off an awkward length.

Flutters of anxiety then really set in when Kyle Verreynne unluckily edged a reverse sweep onto his lower pad with the ball looping up to silly-point.

The Lions pair of Ryan Rickelton and Wiaan Mulder managed to stave off the Tigers' assault for a while though the latter was extremely fortunate to survive a caught-and-bowled chance off a leading edge.

South Africa's struggles were in complete contrast to the first session.  

Elgar crafted his second fifty of the match on the back of surviving two dropped catches and a fortunate reviewed LBW decision.

It proved a frustrating session for Bangladesh, who had to contend with a new ball that once again didn't do much as well as their suspect catching and yet still managed to create those opportunities.

However, they were also guilty of invariably releasing pressure with some poor deliveries, particularly after the missed chances.

Under overcast skies, the Proteas opening pair of Elgar and Sarel Erwee adopted a similar approach to their first innings stand of 113, local boy Erwee being content to drop anchor while his captain batted fluently.

Yet Elgar was only on 7 when he played down the wrong line to off-spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz (3/85), got hit on the back leg and was only saved by a marginal umpire's call.

Ebadot Hossain's (3/40) gutsy spell was rewarded when he trapped Erwee in front, who surprisingly reviewed an adjacent decision on the basis that he somehow got an edge.

The ball was nowhere near the bat.

Elgar then played a loose drive on 34 against Mehidy that went straight in and out from Najmul Hossain Santo at slip, before again lazily hanging his bat out to steer Ebadot square, where Yasir Ali also grassed a fairly regulation chance.

Keegan Petersen, who started his innings with a sublime square drive, was also lucky to emerge unscathed after he was cut in half by a superb Khaled Ahmed delivery that jagged back.

Khaled was convinced, but captain Mominul wasn't.

Replays show a review would've seen Petersen on his way.

In between though, the South African batters prospered, with Elgar once again showing a willingness to score all around the wicket.

Ryan Rickelton was the only other batter to prosper in the latter part of the innings, making a composed, unbeaten 39, but any thoughts of him scoring quick late runs were abolished by two run-outs, one being a brilliant direct hit from deep square with Harmer short. 

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