Dean Elgar’s 197-ball century revived South Africa after a stagnant start on day one of the first Test in Dunedin on Wednesday.
Captain Faf du Plessis elected to bat on a slow pitch, with the mindset of putting a big score on the board. Stunned by Neil Wagner (2-59) and Trent Boult (1-44), the South African batsmen found it difficult to find runs, and losing wickets made things more troubling. Stephen Cook, Hashim Amla and JP Duminy only managed to contribute five runs as a collective, as SA found themselves stranded at 22-3 (18.6 overs).
Elgar (128 off 262 balls) was handed a lifeline on the first ball of the 33rd over when he was dropped on 36. The left-hander tried to flick a full delivery down leg, but instead found a faint edge as the keeper, BJ Watling, put him down. He faced an identical delivery only two balls later and this time he despatched it for four.
He paced his way to a half-century in 124 balls as the tide started to change. Du Plessis (52 off 119) was vital in helping Elgar steady the innings, taking the visitors to 148, before losing his wicket.
The 29-year-old remained calm and stuck to his game plan by reaching his seventh half century. Mimicked by Temba Bavuma (38 off 101), the pair put on 81 runs (186 balls) for the fifth wicket, ending the day on 229-4 (90.0).
With conditions said to suit the batsmen on day two, and batsmen still to come, the Proteas have the chance to take full command of the match with their eyes firmly fixed on 350-plus.
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