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WATCH: Different strokes for different conditions can be good for Proteas

Published Apr 5, 2022


Johannesburg - You see, South Africa can win with spinners dominating the wickets column. South Africa can win without some star players who are earning millions in India. South Africa can also win at Kingsmead.

All of those facts quite rightly pleased Dean Elgar. He can be a very hard man to please as his batters will find out in the next couple of days. However, on Monday, it wasn’t the time for a debrief. Monday it was time to celebrate.

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This was a very good win against a gutsy, skilled and determined Bangladesh team. That the final outcome should appear so comprehensive, is something of a false flag, given how the match unfolded.

Bangladesh had fought back brilliantly with ball after a poor first session on the opening day, then showed lots of reliance with the bat to keep the Proteas’ first innings lead to under 100 runs and were magnificent with the ball to induce a 90/9 collapse on the fourth afternoon.

Russell Domingo was smiling. And then came those six overs on Sunday evening, which saw the tourists lose three wickets for 11 runs, and a lot of the optimism evaporated from their dressing room.

South Africa won a Test at Kingsmead - where they'd been victorious just once in the previous seven matches - with Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer delivering performances of the highest class.

Maharaj finished with seven wickets in the second innings. Harmer, playing his first Test in almost seven years claimed seven wickets in the match.

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“How awesome was it to see two spinners bowling in tandem and have it on a string and absolutely dominate the opposition,” Elgar mused.

Well he might. Harmer did the early damage in Bangladesh’s first innings, allowing South Africa to control the tourists despite Mahmudul Hasan Joy’s fabulous maiden Test hundred.

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Then Maharaj, with his family in attendance blew them away in the second innings - celebrating most of his wickets animatedly, emotion he later admitted that was motivated in part by frustration, partly by wanting to perform well in front of loved ones and also by playing at his home ground.

“I love playing at Kingsmead, it's my home and to have my family witness me help the team over the line is even more special for me. Our record here is not great, I was very happy to help change that mindset and hopefully get everyone wanting to come and play more cricket here at Kingsmead.”

It had been three years since South Africa last played a Test in Durban and before that there’d been grumblings from a few generations of Proteas teams about not enjoying it there, and wanting the Test matches moved elsewhere.

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That may change now, because in Maharaj and Harmer, South Africa have the armoury to be successful there.

This was an important win for Elgar too in that showed him how his team was able to perform in conditions that don’t favour South Africa’s traditional strengths.

“We still want to play that Highveld style of cricket - with three seamers, an all-rounder and a spinner - where fast bowling is our prime source of attack, but in saying that we have to adapt as international cricketers,” said the Proteas captain.

“It’s not the style of cricket that we are used to or want to play, but it shows a lot of character to be able to adapt and be put in situations that we are not familiar with. It shows a lot of strength within our group and that we have the resources to adapt.”

It helped that conditions forced the hand of the selectors although Elgar did remark that had the IPL bound players even been present, Harmer and Maharaj would still have played.

Besides bowling all the overs in Bangladesh’s second innings, they also bowled two thirds in the first, and while Maharaj went wicketless, the fact that he conceded less than two runs an over, illustrated the control both he and Harmer exerted.

“The pure skill, intensity and consistency was something amazing to witness,” said Elgar.