Temba Bavuma scored his maiden Test hundred as Hashim Amla declared two runs short of England’s 629.
What a turnaround. Can this match have a result after all? Probably not. Being 1-0 up in the series, England still hold all the cards and have no reason to risk anything. South Africa also have a very inexperienced bowling line-up and on a flat wicket like this, there isn’t enough time to bowl England out.
Does it really matter? South Africa came into this match with their backs against the wall after yet another heavy Test defeat in Durban. There were question marks over the whole team, including Hashim Amla’s captaincy, and the first two days just added to the misery after England smashed 629-6.
The visitors finished day four on 16-0 after Amla declared on 627-7 and forced England to bat for 30 minutes after being in the field for 211 overs.
Fast forward two days later and the picture looks remarkably different. Not only have South Africa all but matched England’s total, but three of their under-pressure batsmen got crucial runs under their belts.
Faf du Plessis spoke on Monday about the mental scars the Indian series left on the batsmen and how they still battled those ghosts in Durban. It’s safe to say South Africa have moved on from that now.
Temba Bavuma capped off a brilliant fourth day for South Africa by scoring his first Test ton to all but cement his place in the side for the foreseeable future. His innings was beautifully played, full of cover drives and pull shots and he looked like a seasoned pro rather than someone playing in only his seventh Test.
He received a standing ovation from an appreciative Newlands crowd after reaching his milestone and the emotion on his face told the story of a man relieved that the burden has been lifted.
Bavuma continued the good work of Amla (201) and Faf du Plessis (86) who took the innings into the second session before they succumbed to the third new ball after lunch. Quinton de Kock followed shortly afterwards before Bavuma and Chris Morris (69) shared a 167-run partnership, South Africa’s highest seventh-wicket partnership against England.
It was a monumental batting effort by the Proteas, forcing England to spend 211 overs in the field. It was also the first time South Africa managed three 150-plus partnerships in an innings.
While this is a flat pitch, England still managed to create plenty of chances throughout the South African innings. They dropped at least six catches and had another four or five half-chances go begging.
Hashim Amla was dropped three times on his way to a double hundred, AB de Villiers was dropped on five, Temba Bavuma on 77 and Chris Morris on 57. De Villiers and Amla’s first drop cost England 208 runs.
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