The Proteas bowlers need to be more clinical to break the Bangladesh lineup.
And it goes without saying that the fielders cannot afford to let chances slip away, as Elgar did so glaringly on day two. Bangladesh stand at a precarious 127-3, and the Proteas, who ran up 496-3, will put a lot of pressure on them if they can make a quick breakthrough on day three.
At the crease are Mominul Haque on 28 and Tamim Iqbal on 22, and both have shown they have the patience and discipline to stay there for some time. Tamim cannot be underrated: he scored 71 and 78 in Bangladesh’s victorious Test against Australia on a deck not too dissimilar to that of Potchefstroom, and further down the line is Sabbir Rahman, who also had a fifty against Australia.
They have shown they are not overawed by the occasion and are prepared to wait for poor deliveries, of which there have been far too many. Of their frontline bowlers, the most prolific went at 3.62 an over; those of the Proteas are going at 5.40 and 4.85.
While the wicket is developing variable bounce, there is still no assistance from the pitch and the ball is not swinging. There is a slight chance of scattered rain that might help to freshen up the conditions, but ultimately the bowlers will need to rely on pace and precision.
The Bangladeshis have probably done enough already to ensure the Proteas will choose to bat again, even if they do not make the 169 required to take away the follow-on decision. Faf du Plessis would not want to risk batting last on this wicket; but it would be helpful if they can get back in as quickly as possible and run up a commanding target.
As Dean Elgar admitted on Friday night: ‘It’s going to be hard work. The Bangladeshis aren’t a pushover team anymore, their cricketers are highly skilled now. They made scoring quite tough at times and now they are making taking wickets quite tough. As a bowling unit, we will have to be on it and the first hour could be big for us.’
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images
SA (1st innings) 496-3 declared – Dean Elgar 199, Hashim Amla 137, Aiden Markram 97
Bangladesh (1st innings) 127-3 – Mushfiqur Rahim 44, Mominul Haque 28 not out, Kagiso Rabada 1-23
Bangladesh trail by 369 runs