Aiden Markram’s superb century laid the foundation of a big score as the Proteas went to tea at 177-2 in the fourth Test against Australia at the Wanderers.
It was his fourth century in 10 Tests — to go along with three fifties — struck off 152 balls with 11 fours and a six.
It was a superbly fluent innings, too, as he coped with some questionable bounce and handled some sharp turn from Nathan Lyon with equal ease. The hundred came by turning Lyon off his legs for a single, a sharp contrast to the almost suicidal run he took to get his first hundred of this series, in Durban.
At tea, he was on 111 off 172 balls, striking at a rate of almost 65, with AB de Villiers on eight.
The Proteas, having elected to bat on a wicket which Faf du Plessis believes will deteriorate quite rapidly, started well enough with a stand of 53, to which Dean Elgar contributed a streaky 19. He fell victim to Lyon, who was brought on as early as the 16th over and immediately got turn to go with the bounce. In his second over, Elgar seemed to be caught in two minds, offered a leading edge and chipped to mid-off.
Hashim Alma, too, had not quite settled when he was sent back by Pat Cummins, well taken by a diving Peter Handscomb at second slip as the ball swung late, for 27 off 81 balls.
Until that moment, the seamers were looking largely ineffective and resorted to bowling wide of off-stump in the hope of tempting the batsmen into something rash.
None were biting. Lyon remained the biggest threat, but was ill-advised to review an lbw against De Villiers on six. But he was getting too much spin and Hawkeye showed it was going well past leg.
Cummins – playing his ninth Test in a row – is still looking good, while Chadd Sayers, in for the injured Mitchell Starc, has so far failed to show the penetration to trouble the Proteas top order.
The average first-day score at the Wanderers is 246-8, but it looks as if the Proteas will go past that, with wickets in hand, if they continue as they are.
South Africa 177-2 (1st innings): Aiden Markram 111*, Hashim Amla 27; Nathan Lyon 1-49, Pat Cummins 1-30.
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