The injury-enforced absence of Morné Morkel, as well as the likelihood of rain on day five has boosted Bangladesh’s chances of survival. JON CARDINELLI reports.
South Africa went into day four with a 230-run lead. They strengthened their hold on the contest when the likes of Faf du Plessis and Temba Bavuma scored quickly over the next session and a half.
The Proteas had Bangladesh on the ropes when Morné Morkel removed Tamim Iqbal and Mominul Haque in the very first over of the visitors’ second innings. A wicket off a no-ball and then a dropped catch in the slips prevented the Proteas from making significant inroads into the middle order. Keshav Maharaj did manage to dismiss opener Imrul Kayes on the stroke of tea, though.
The equation appears simple. South Africa need seven wickets for victory on day five. One cannot see Bangladesh reaching the 424 target, especially now that three of their key batsmen are back in the hut.
Of course, what transpired late on day four may have a bearing on the outcome of this game.
Morkel left the field shortly before tea with an injury. It was subsequently confirmed that the Proteas spearhead had suffered a side strain and that he was unlikely to play any further part in the Test. The pressure is now on Kagiso Rabada, Maharaj, and the inexperienced duo of Duanne Olivier and Andile Phehlukwayo to finish the job.
Will the Proteas have enough time, though, to claim the remaining seven wickets? More than an hour of play was lost in the second session of day four due to rain. Not a ball was bowled in the third session due to a subsequent storm.
More rain is forecast for Monday. The upshot is that a depleted Proteas attack may have fewer than 90 overs to claim those last seven wickets and secure victory.
At this stage, the hosts are still favourites to win and take a 1-0 lead in the two-game series. If they fail to get over the line, however, Du Plessis’ decision to bat on into the second session on day four may come under scrutiny.
The Proteas’ intent to score quickly was patent. Bavuma took some time to get going, but Du Plessis was aggressive from the outset. Bavuma eventually found his rhythm, and together they put on 142 runs for the fourth wicket – a record against Bangladesh.
Neither batsman managed to crack on and score a century. What they did manage to do was set the platform for a gargantuan lead of 423 runs.
A more accurate bowling and fielding performance may have seen Bangladesh finish the day four or five wickets down. A fully fit bowling attack would have seen the Proteas heading into the decisive day as overwhelming favourites in spite of the gloomy weather predictions.
Rabada will need to take on more responsibility early on day five. Olivier and the debutant Phehlukwayo will have to provide support.
Maharaj, who has troubled the Bangladesh batsmen throughout the Test, should play a key role in ending the visitors’ resistance.
SA (1st innings) 496-3 declared – Dean Elgar 199, Hashim Amla 137, Aiden Markram 97
Bangladesh (1st innings) 320 – Mushfiqur Rahim 44, Mominul Haque 77, Mahmudullah 66
SA (2nd innings) 247-6 declared – Faf du Plessis 81, Temba Bavuma 71, Mominul Haque 3-27
Bangladesh (2nd innings) 49-3 – Imrul Kayes 32, Morné Morkel 2-19
Bangladesh need 375 runs to win