Temba Bavuma fell on the stroke of lunch on day two as the Proteas battled their way to 358-5.
Day one belonged to South Africa, and with the way the pitch is playing up so far on day two, losing two wickets in the morning session doesn’t look too bad. The pitch is doing all kinds of things, and the likes of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner are all benefiting from it. Boult is getting it to cut in and keep low, Southee appears to be getting lots of carry through to the ‘keeper, and Wagner’s short balls are holding up a bit and forcing mistakes from the batsmen.
And it was the short balls that got the wickets. Southee decided to bang one in which Duminy could only feather to BJ Watling, while Bavuma failed to get on top of a Wagner bouncer, prompting a decent catch from Doug Bracewell running in from the ropes.
Faf du Plessis is somehow still there after seeing off the early pressure and having a bit of luck on his side. He was starting to stagnate at the crease as JP Duminy took on the responsibility of adding to the scoreboard after the side’s 282-3 overnight. Stand-in skipper Du Plessis was dropped on the boundary by Henry Nicholls when he was on 18, before another top edge went straight up and into no-man’s land on 31. Battling for runs and confidence, Du Plessis absorbed the pressure and a flurry of quick boundaries late on in the session got him to his ninth Test half-century.
It was just the second time in Test history that the top five passed 50 for the Proteas in an innings.
Duminy, aiming for his first Test century since July 2014 against Sri Lanka, fell an agonising 12 runs short. Bavuma walked in and looked composed from ball one, but he too fell to the short-ball trap. The majority of Wagner’s deliveries were short and Bavuma decided to have a go at it. He departed for eight.
Stiaan van Zyl, in his return to the side at No 7, navigated 10 balls without scoring to take the hosts through to lunch. Dale Steyn will be licking his lips at the prospect of bowling on this pitch, and he’s going to have a competitive total to work with, too. The Proteas have the advantage so far.
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