Stiaan van Zyl scored 51no in his first Test innings to take South Africa to 449-4 at lunch on day two of the first Test at Centurion.
Van Zyl took 11 balls to get off the mark, and battled initially against the off-spin of Sulieman Benn. However, after being dropped on two by Kraigg Brathwaite at leg slip, the left-handed batsman started to play with confidence, striking several sweetly-timed boundaries. By the end of the session, Van Zyl had taken his personal tally to 51no and strengthened South Africa’s position in the opening Test of the series.
News that the injured Kemar Roach would play no part in this morning’s session did little to hamper the tourists. The West Indies bowlers hit some good areas, and eventually the pressure told on a batsman that was well set.
Benn looped a delivery towards AB de Villiers that bounced more than the batsman expected. De Villiers reached for the ball but only succeeded in hitting it to backward point.
Benn then thought that he had a nervous-looking Van Zyl caught at leg slip. Brathwaite put the chance down, allowing South Africa and Van Zyl to survive. But the South Africans would do more than that in the ensuing overs, as Hashim Amla and Van Zyl proceeded to up the run rate and seize the initiative.
Amla played with the same composure and patience that had proved so effective on day one. The Proteas captain and De Villiers put on a record 308 runs for the fourth wicket before the latter played a false stroke.
The morning session belonged to the Proteas. They will be looking to lift the scoring rate after lunch, and possibly declare before tea. Before the start of play, Proteas seamer Kyle Abbott said that the hosts were aiming for a total in the region of 550. It’s clear that South Africa don’t intend to bat more than once in this contest.
Amla and De Villiers made batting look easy, but there is still something in this pitch for the bowlers. The West Indies have got the ball to move off the deck, and there is some bounce.
No doubt the Proteas’ seam attack of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Morné Morkel, and Abbott will have taken note. The Proteas may lament the absence of specialist spinner, though, as Benn got the ball to bounce and turn appreciably on the second morning of this Test.
SA 1st innings – 449-4 (Hashim Amla 178no, AB de Villiers 152, Stiaan van Zyl 51no, Kemar Roach 2-52).