ICC Live

CT 2017 - Buy Tickets - 300x250


What are your thoughts on this article?

Elgar stars in even battle

De Villiers unbeaten on 51 as South Africa ends first day of second Test at 214 for 5

Elgar stars in even battle - Cricket News
South Africa's cricketer Dean Elgar plays a shot.
Graeme Smith has surely never experienced such a frenetic five minutes before a toss as the one that sucked him in and swirled him around on Thursday (February 20) morning. South Africa’s captain found himself jogging around the field and jotting down a last-minute team as a bemused Michael Clarke waited in the middle. One suspects that if Smith had been offered a score of 214 for 5 at the close of play, he would have taken it. As it was, South Africa could have done even better.
South Africa was expecting to make three changes for the second Test after Alviro Petersen’s illness was assessed on Wednesday and Quinton de Kock was called up as cover. But when Vernon Philander pulled up gingerly in the warm-ups on Thursday, suddenly a previously settled side was facing a fourth change. That did not come to pass, but it put Smith in a spin and added to the mental cloud that would have been hanging over the side after its drubbing in Centurion.
That it came away from day one with a passable score was largely down to Dean Elgar, who scored a composed 83 after coming in to open the batting with Smith. It was his first Test in his preferred batting position, having been forced to bat in the lower order due to a lack of places before, and he was well supported by Faf du Plessis (55) and AB de Villiers (51 not out).
Although those two partnerships dominated the day, they were book-ended by two successful periods for Australia which were enough to make the tourists the happier side when bad light stopped play after 83 overs.
The first passage saw Smith and Amla trapped lbw by Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson respectively, as South Africa fell to 11 for 2; the second was sparked by a poor shot from Elgar, which was replicated soon after by an over-eager de Kock.
South Africa was aided by benign batting conditions, which largely neutralised Johnson, so it will know that anything less than 400 in the first innings will represent something of a failure. The easterly wind brings moisture from the sea and makes the ball swing at St. George’s Park, but on Thursday the wind came from the west and the pitch lacked the spice that was seen in Centurion.
Australia adjusted to its new surroundings well. Once the new ball stopped swinging, the seamers pulled their lengths back and tested the batsmen’s patience. Elgar showed he was up to the test by taking 40 minutes and 20 balls to get off the mark, by which time he’d lost two partners but had seen off Johnson’s opening spell with a calmness that was lacking from South Africa’s batting in the first Test.
Elgar added 112 with du Plessis, who batted elegantly throughout, in South Africa’s best and biggest partnership of the series thus far. The stand was broken with a tame dismissal after the afternoon drinks break, with du Plessis out bat and pad to Nathan Lyon.
A further 58 was put on between Elgar and de Villiers before Lyon struck again, this time as Elgar attempted to hit against the spin and sliced to the off side. The left-hander had hit Lyon for a couple of sixes over long-on, one before lunch and one after, but misread the length this time.
De Kock was greeted by a hearty welcome from the crowd as he walked in at five - a representation of the promise that South Africa's fans see in the 21-year-old. However his naivety was soon shown up when he took on a Steve Smith legbreak and offered a simple catch to mid-off.
De Villiers went to fifty in the closing stages of the day, making it a record 12 Tests in a row that he has reached fifty. The 11th that he scored at Centurion had taken him level with Sir Viv Richards, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, but now he stands alone. South Africa will need to make sure that he is not left standing alone on Friday.

Similar Articles