Batsmen Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers rightfully stood at the fore of coach Russell Domingo’s appreciation, as South Africa dominated day one of the first Test match against the West Indies in Centurion on Wednesday.
Visiting skipper Denesh Ramdin’s choice to bowl first after winning the toss reaped early reward, as the Proteas slipped to a fragile 57 for three, before Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers combined for a resounding, unbroken 283-run alliance, which carried the score to a hefty 340 for three in 91 overs at the close of play.
The partnership weighed in as the country’s highest for the fourth wicket in the longest format of the international game, surpassing the 249 amassed by the veteran Jacques Kallis and Gary Kirsten – against the West Indians in Durban a decade ago.
‘By no means are we going to get carried away by this performance. At 57 for three it didn’t look like there was any gulf between the sides. But in AB and Hash, are two of the very best batsmen in the world,’ said Domingo.
‘At 102 for four, had the bails fallen off, we would have all had said that the West Indies had had a great day. We can take nothing for granted with this side, we need to make sure that we continue with the good work that these two have set up for us. We know that there is a lot of work left.
‘Both Hashim and AB’s records are phenomenal and it’s very difficult to separate them, especially in this format. AB is naturally gifted and has such good hand-eye co-ordination. To add to that he has a good cricket brain, he understands his game, understands his technique and the biggest x-factor with both of them is that they are able to score quickly and put sides under pressure.’
The Windies are waiting on the fitness of fast bowler Kemar Roach, who sustained an ankle injury after snaring the key wickets of opener Alviro Petersen and the in-form Faf du Plessis. Fellow seamer Sheldon Cottrell, meanwhile, was responsible for the fall of the left-handed Dean Elgar.
‘I’m very anxious to have Kemar back, just because of his experience, and to give me pointers. They play spin and pace very well and it’s their home ground, so it was really difficult bowling to them,’ added Cottrell.
‘My game plan was bowl a good enough length to disturb the batsmen with the in-swinger, because it has been said that South Africa is a bit iffy when coming out against a left-arm pace bowler. It was moving quite a bit. I didn’t have the control that I really wanted. There was a lot of moisture in the wicket. We were struggling to find lengths and lines.’