Eight days after being run out for 97 in his first Test innings, Aiden Markram eased into the 90s again – then reached a maiden Test century with two successive boundaries.
Markram’s 145 helped propel South Africa to a massive 428 for three on the first day of the second and final Test against Bangladesh at Mangaung Oval on Friday.
Opening partner Dean Elgar hit 113 before Hashim Amla and captain Faf du Plessis, unbeaten on 89 and 62 respectively, joined in the run feast.
Markram, who turned 23 on Wednesday, admitted there was “a bit of extra focus in the 90s”. If there were any nerves, Bangladesh fast bowler Rubel Hussain helped settle them. An over-pitched delivery was punched square on the off-side for four to take him to 97 and he didn’t have time to dwell on the previous week’s mishap because he hooked the next ball for another boundary.
“Fortunately I hit the gaps and the outfield was nice and quick,” he said. “It hasn’t hit home yet but I am very happy to have got there, especially after what happened last week.”
In what was almost an action replay of the first day of the first Test, Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim won the toss and sent South Africa in, only for his bowlers to be put to the sword.
The only major difference was that Bangladesh reshuffled their bowling attack, retaining only Mustafizur Rahman of their front-line bowlers.
Markram said, though, that he was less surprised by being asked to bat than in the first Test. “There was a bit more in the wicket and although the scoring rate doesn’t show it, they were at us quite a bit.”
Rahim defended his decision. “It was a very good wicket to bowl on early but our bowlers didn’t capitalise,” he said. “When they pitched the ball up they were driven down the ground and when they went back (of a length) they were too short. After that they tried hard and bowled well in patches.”
– Kayes hurt –
Already without opening batsman Tamim Iqbal because of a thigh injury, Bangladesh suffered another potential injury blow when a rare edge from Markram pitched short of Imrul Kayes at second slip and crashed into his knee.
The incident happened in mid-afternoon and Kayes did not return to the field before the close. “His knee was quite swollen. He has been having treatment and hopefully he will be okay tomorrow.”
Elgar and Markram’s partnership of 243 exceeded the 196 they put on to set up South Africa’s 333-run win in the first Test.
Elgar followed up his 199 in Potchefstroom with his tenth Test century. He made his runs off 152 balls, with 17 fours. When he reached 16 he became the first batsman in the world to score 1000 runs in 2017.
There was a brief lull after tea when Mustafizur and Roy picked up a wicket apiece and kept the scoring under control while Amla and Du Plessis were playing themselves in. It didn’t last long and the pair posted a century partnership off 111 balls.
It was a day when virtually nothing went right for Bangladesh. After a fruitless morning they went back to their dressing room to find their halal food was still on the way. The resumption of play was delayed by ten minutes to enable them to eat.