South Africa 496/3 dec and 247/6 dec
Bangladesh 320 and 90
South Africa won by 333 runs
POTCHEFSTROOM – Faf du Plessis was being a little generous when he described his team’s performance in the first Test against Bangladesh as “spotless”.
Of course the Proteas played very well on a surface that the captain wasn’t entirely happy about.
The concerns about their batting were addressed, and the bowlers adapted well to conditions more reminiscent of the sub-continent than the southern tip of Africa.
But it was by no means a “spotless” display.
The catching and Morné Morkel’s no-ball dismissal were reminiscent of some of the ill-discipline which befell the side in England, and those areas will need urgent attention.
The more testing opposition later this summer will make South Africa pay for errors more than Bangladesh did here, and there is certainly scope for a more polished performance in the second Test in Bloemfontein.
But Du Plessis is right in saying they addressed some other nagging weaknesses which have hampered their play this year, most notably with the bat.
“It was obviously a very good wicket, but you can only bat on the surface that’s in front of you,” said Du Plessis.
“From a runs point of view, it was very, very good, and the opening partnership was very, very good. The batters who got opportunities cashed in.”
There were three half-centuries and two centuries, a first innings total of 496/3 declared – only the fourth time in the last 14 Tests that South Africa has gone passed 400.
And that opening stand between Man of the Match Dean Elgar and debutant Aiden Markram was the first century partnership for the opening wicket since the Boxing Day Test last year, 10 matches ago.
The Proteas had to readjust the way in which they played given the conditions, which were, as Elgar mentioned at one stage, almost sub-continental.
“Our bowlers adapted beautifully, they were consistent in their areas and put Bangladesh under pressure for sustained periods,” said Du Plessis.
While happy with the outcome, it isn’t the kind of pitch on which the South African captain wants to tackle teams like Bangladesh and India, who are here later this season.
“When you play countries like Bangladesh, it’s important that you ensure you give your team some sort of advantage from the wicket.
“I felt there wasn’t much advantage for any team in these conditions. It was really slow, and even some of the tail-enders were comfortable (playing against) the short ball,” Du Plessis explained.
“The good thing, which was pleasing, was that the groundsman said the pitch wouldn’t spin, and for four days, it didn’t spin off the straight.”
When it did start spinning, Keshav Maharaj was on hand to knock over the Bangladeshis on the final morning, claiming 4/25 in the second innings to further underline his importance to the Proteas Test side.
It’s just under a year since he made his debut and in 12 Tests, he’s claimed 50 wickets.
Bangladesh’s last seven wickets fell for just 41 runs in 83 minutes on Monday morning, a bitterly disappointing outcome given how well they have performed in recent times.
“We just didn’t show enough skill and character,” said their captain Mushfiqur Rahim. “We are not as bad as we showed in that second innings.
“We didn’t score enough runs in the first innings, even though I felt the pitch on day three was still very good for batting.
“It was a good opportunity for us to bat and make a big score, but we just messed it up.”
The second Test starts in Bloemfontein on Friday.