Australia coach Darren Lehmann believes the ‘go-slow’ session by Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla in the second Test was the perfect innings.
The two came under fire from commentators and fans after scoring just 43 runs off 26 overs in the second session of day two as they built a partnership of 88 off 46 overs. They fended off everything that the much-vaunted pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood could throw at them. And that paved the way for AB de Villiers to play one of the greatest Test innings, which established what was to become a match-winning lead.
‘I thought Elgar and Amla showed our blokes a little bit how to get through that [difficult time],’ said Lehmann. ‘As we know, when your bowlers are starting to bowl 25 overs an innings, it is starting to get to be tough work. You make your runs at the back end against quality attacks, and that’s what we’ve got to get better at.’
David Warner and Cameron Bancroft put on 98 for the first wicket, the highest stand of the match, but Lehmann says that there was little behind them in terms of partnerships that could tire out South Africa’s attack. The partnership of Amla and Elgar was exactly the type of innings lacking in the Australian offering.
‘We did not have enough runs in the first innings as you saw. At 0 for 98, I thought we were going really well, and then that either-side period of tea we lost four for nine and eight for 80 in that, and then 10-11 did really well to get us to 243, but still it was 50-75 runs short. If we have those runs… and we’re probably short in the second innings to be fair, short another 50 there. Batting’s got to improve as we know.’
Amla said after that day’s play that he and Elgar had to ‘dig in’ against a quality Australian attack.
‘They were bowling really well for the whole session, and the ball was reversing well,’ he said. ‘It was important not to lose any wickets. It was a tough day of Test cricket. I think that those who love Test cricket will appreciate the quality of the bowling.’
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