BLOEMFONTEIN - South Africa’s openers took advantage of an easy paced pitch and some truly dreadful bowling to gain a significant advantage on the first morning of the second Test on Friday.
At lunch, the Proteas had reached 126 without loss with Dean Elgar on 72 and Aiden Markram on 54. Elgar’s runs came off just 88 balls and included 13 fours in a clear illustration of South Africa’s dominance against a desperately poor attack.
Mushfiqur Rahim once more won the toss and, as he did in Potchefstroom, inexplicably chose to bowl. Bangladesh had made three changes; one was enforced, with Soumya Sarkar replacing the injured Tamim Iqbal, while the bowling unit featured Rubel Hoosain, Taijul Islam and Shubhashis Roy.
However, with the exception of Mustafizur Rahman the bowling’s been awful. A wide collection of half-volleys, full tosses, interspersed with some short and wide filth was served up to a South African opening pair that is still in the early stages of its growth as a combination.
Whatever Mushfiqur and Bangladesh’s bowling coach Courtney Walsh may have noticed in the pitch initially, was not taken advantage of by their bowlers who gave the South Africans a free ride.
Mushfiqur rapidly lost confidence in his seamers, and by the sixth over, Soumya, the opening batsman, was already asked to bowl an over.
Elgar settled quicker than his opening partner Markram, who must be wondering what all the fuss about Test cricket is about.
When Elgar reached 16, he became the first bowler to score 1000 Test runs for the year, but he was only getting started. He reached 50 off just 59 balls, easily his fastest Test half-century hitting 10 fours.
Markram must have been wondering if he’d woken up in some alternative universe such was the ease of Bangladesh’s bowling. He took 81 balls to reach his second Test half-century, striking eight fours along the way.
Wayne Parnell was the only change to the South African starting, as a replacement for the injured Morne Morkel.