Aiden Markram scored his second Test century to boost South Africa to 251-4 at the dinner break on day one at St George’s Park. JON CARDINELLI reports.
It took an incredible ball – and indeed an incredible piece of fielding – to end an incredible innings. Three minutes before the dinner break, Kyle Jarvis found the edge of Markram’s bat. The ball flew towards the slip cordon and wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor dived to his right to complete the catch.
The dismissal brought down the curtain on a fine knock by the 23-year-old, as well as a prosperous session for South Africa. The milestone marked Markram’s second ton in just three Tests.
Earlier in the day, Markram and Dean Elgar did well to survive much of the first session and post 72 for the first wicket. After tea, Markram and stand-in skipper AB de Villiers – and then Markram and Temba Bavuma – shifted gear. Overall, the Proteas scored 155 more runs in the second session than they did in the first.
Zimbabwe’s tactical inexperience, as well as their inconsistent bowling, cost them dearly. Four good balls were often followed by two poor deliveries that ultimately relieved the pressure on the batsmen.
The visitors used up both of their reviews inside 40 overs. Subsequently, they were unable to challenge the umpire’s decision of not out after Markram had been hit on the pad. Television replays showed that Markram would have been given out had the decision been reviewed.
De Villiers, playing in his first Test in nearly two years, batted well until he mistimed a drive straight back to the bowler, Christopher Mpofu. The nature of the dismissal highlighted the slowness of the pitch, and indeed the level of concentration needed to survive for lengthy periods of time.
Markram reached the three-figure mark 30 minutes before the dinner break. It took the South African opener 175 balls to get to his century.
The effervescent Bavuma played an important role during the latter stages of the second session. Together, Bavuma and Markram amassed 78 for the fourth wicket to put the hosts on top.
From hereon in, though, the Proteas as well as Zimbabwe will travel into the unknown. This game marks the first day-night Test in South Africa, and both teams will need to adapt to the more challenging conditions under lights later this evening.
SA 309-9 declared (1st innings) – Aiden Markram 125, AB de Villiers 53, Temba Bavuma 35 not out, Kyle Jarvis 2-57Christopher Mpofu 3-51
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images