At 338-3, and a lot of batting to come, Faf du Plessis may get his ‘perfect match’ in the third Test against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers.
Despite the ideal condition for seam bowling, a green top and lowering sky, Du Plessis opted to bat, reckoning the wicket will deteriorate and make batting more difficult with each passing hour.
The century by JP Duminy (155) and the continuing innings of Hashim Amla (125*) have given him the perfect platform for the really big total he has sought. In the first two Tests, it was denied to him by too many failures among the top six, which left him relying on individuals putting up their hand and a strong bowling performance.
But as Amla admitted after his epic innings on day one, ‘on this type of wicket you are never in’.
‘We batted first, thinking about day four and five,’ he said. ‘It will be difficult to bat on. We saw with the new ball, a lot of nip and it’s still shaping. It’s a challenging wicket.’
With Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma, Du Plessis and contributions from Wayne Parnell and Vernon Philander to come, a declaration in the area of 600 is not beyond expectation.
Then it will be up to the four-man seam attack to finish the job, which means dismissing the visitors quickly enough to make the follow-on the only option. Especially if game time is curtailed by rain, which is threatening.
The Sri Lankans’ only hope of survival is to prevent this. They need to stem the flow of runs and they need to take wickets quickly; neither of which they did on day one, apart from the first session. Given that they took two wickets for 45 runs halfway through it, it shows how completely lacking they were for the rest of the day.
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