South African Batsmen Made To Work Hard In Port Elizabeth
South Africa 214-5 (Elgar 83, du Plessis 55) v
Second Test, Port Elizabeth, day one
South Africa were made to work hard for their runs after electing to bat on day one of the second Test against Australia in Port Elizabeth, but ended it with their highest score of the series to date, closing on 214 for five.
They lost two early wickets, but Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers each hit determined half-centuries, with the former two perishing to Nathan Lyon and the latter ending not out on 51.
The Proteas made three changes to their eleven, while the tourists were unsurprisingly unchanged after their emphatic performance in the first Test in Centurion. Alviro Petersen was ruled out due to a viral infection, with his place at the top of the order taken by Elgar. Ryan McLaren was unavailable to due to concussion after being struck on the head during the first Test and was replaced by fellow all-rounder Wayne Parnell, while Robin Peterson was dropped after an innocuous showing in Centurion, with Quinton de Kock handed a Test debut to strengthen the batting. JP Duminy and Elgar will, therefore, share spin bowling duties.
It all began horribly for the hosts as Graeme Smith did nothing to scotch rumours that this could be his last series by being trapped plumb LBW by Ryan Harris. Hashim Amla was then also dismissed leg-before by first Test destroyer Johnson to make it 11 for two.
The Proteas would have been having flashbacks to last week at this point, but Elgar and du Plessis calmed things. They took their side through to lunch on 64 without further loss and continued for much of the afternoon session as Australia’s bowlers lacked penetration on a relatively slow St George’s Park pitch.
Du Plessis brought up his third Test half-century off 117 balls, with Elgar passing 50 for the second time in his career off 112 balls shortly afterwards. Unfortunately, du Plessis was caught first ball after the afternoon drinks break by Steve Smith off Lyon for 55 off 126 balls. However, de Villiers joined Elgar and the pair progressed to tea on 145 for three.
Elgar then handed Lyon a second wicket around an hour after the break when he attempted a lofted shot and was caught by Harris for 83 off 193 balls. De Kock didn’t last long on debut and was next to go when he played a drive to substitute fielder Moises Henriques off Smith’s leg-spin. Stumps were reached soon after as bad light prevented Australia from taking the second new ball as they wished and the umpires took the players off the field.
Duminy is unbeaten alongside de Villiers on two, with Harris (18-5-36-1), Johnson (15-2-44-1), Smith (4-0-18-1) and Lyon (23-6-47-2) the Australian wicket-takers. Interestingly on the first day, three of the five wickets fell to spin, with South Africa not having selected a specialist spinner. Could that move come back to haunt them?
© Cricket World 2014