Wiaan Mulder keeps it simple, overshadows Proteas' specialist bowlers

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Wiaan Mulder had a decent day with the ball (AFP)
Wiaan Mulder had a decent day with the ball (AFP)
  • Wiaan Mulder belied his status as the Proteas' fifth bowler on the opening day of the Test series against Sri Lanka by producing a fine spell.
  • The 22-year-old all-rounder nabbed three high-profile wickets as he encouragingly showcased a versatile skillset.
  • While he did put his more specialist team-mates to shame to an extent, Mulder believes a young attack will have learned a lot from a difficult day.

Wiaan Mulder, entrusted as the Proteas' designated all-rounder for the first Test against Sri Lanka in Centurion, attributed an encouraging spell on Saturday's opening day to sheer simplicity.

The 22-year-old Highveld Lions star, who has previously stated that he considers himself a batting all-rounder, showed his prowess with the ball in finishing with figures of 3/68 off 18 lionhearted overs.

It doesn't necessarily look potent on paper, but in the context of the Sri Lankans racing to 340/6 at the close of play, it was a useful contribution.

"It was pretty simple what I had to do," Mulder said at the end of Saturday's play.

"We started off a bit shaky and and at that stage my responsibility was clear. I had to adopt a simple strategy, keep the ball on off-stump and stop the runs. Getting a wicket is pretty much a bonus. 

"I had to try and get us back in the game. There was something in the wicket throughout, so I just had to keep things simple."

While Mulder's first wicket, that of opener Kusal Perera, was almost wholly down to the left-hander's cavalier shot-making, there were distinct touches of class to his other scalps.

First he surprised innings lynchpin Dinesh Chandimal, who made 85, with an excellent delivery that sprung off a length and surprised his opponent, before going fuller and trapping the dangerous Niroshan Dickwella (49) in front.

Nabbing three high-profile batting victims certainly belied his status as South Africa's fifth bowler of sorts.

Mulder, to a large extent, put his specialist bowling team-mates to shame though he had a kind word for his franchise team-mate and debutant, Lutho Sipamla, who recovered from a chastening two opening spells to end respectably.

"He's a good bowler who's done really well domestically. Not a lot of us tried to overburden him with too much advice," he said.

"Lutho worked hard throughout. I've played together with him previously, so I personally just told him to do what he's been doing at domestic level. He came back really well and got the ball in the right areas."

Sipamla's inconsistency was part of a broader theme of a Proteas attack that is lacking in experience.

In fact, the unit assembled for this match is the least experienced local Test attack since Boxing Day in 1993 and there were bound to be hiccups.

"I think every young attack wants to make a point and contribute to the team," said Mulder.

"And how they do it will probably differ. In the end, the senior players helped a lot. They never made any situation bigger or smaller than it needed to be. 

"Even the most experienced players still keep things simple, but they are aggressive. We all strive to be the better versions of ourselves, but today was part of the game.

"We all learned lessons." 

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