JOHANNESBURG - Independent Media cricket writer Stuart Hess has looked at the key moments, performances and factors from the Proteas' victory against Bangladesh in the second Test of the series.
Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis, all notched centuries in South Africa’s first innings. It’s an important achievement following a year in which the batting unit - Elgar aside - has struggled. The pitches in this series have been easy and the opposition bowling without threat, but scoring runs will lift confidence ahead of the tougher challenges later this summer.
Asked to spearhead the attack in the absence of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, and with the rest of the attack comprising a total of 25 caps between them, Kagiso Rabada - playing just his 22nd Test - rose to the occasion, finishing with five wickets in each innings to claim match figures of: 24.5-5-63-10. He used the short ball cleverly and when he needed to pitch the ball up, he did so accurately.
There were two stunning grabs that lit up this match; Temba Bavuma’s effort to get rid of Mushfiqur Rahim in Bangladesh’s first innings will remain one of the highlights of the season, while on Sunday Elgar, who’s struggled with his catching this year, flew to his left to end Mahmadullah’s innings, giving Rabada his 100th Test wicket.
Rabada stood tall on Sunday. It’d be pretty easy to take him for granted, but South Africans need to be wary in that regard. Not only does he have the physical attributes to make fast bowling look easy but he’s got a very high skill level and it was that element of his game that was really to the fore in this series on pitches not suited to his natural ability. He’s quickly backed up his ability with stats: 100 Test wickets, a seventh Test ‘five-for’ and a third ‘10-for.’ And he’s still just 22-years-old.
Perhaps Bangladesh weren’t expected to win the series, but they were expected to ask some questions. They never did that. Their bowling has been poor, lacking discipline and consistency and their batting, with the exception of Mominul Haque in the first innings of the first Test, has lacked courage and skill to cope with South Africa’s bowling. And that in conditions far friendlier to a sub-continent team than is usually the case in this country.