South Africa were 96-2 at tea on day one at St George’s Park, JON CARDINELLI reports.
At the toss, stand-in Proteas skipper AB de Villiers said that the slow nature of the St Georges Park pitch, and the challenge of batting under lights in this inaugural day-night Test on South African soil, had influenced his decision to bat first. De Villiers felt that the wicket would quicken up on day two, and that batting may be easier in the afternoon sessions.
Zimbabwe’s bowlers did well to exploit the slow conditions in the first hour or so – at least as far as the run-rate was concerned. Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar were made to work for their 72-run partnership. The complexion of the innings changed, though, midway through the session.
The hosts were battling along at three runs-per-over when Elgar chipped Kyle Jarvis to midwicket. Three overs later, Hashim Amla offered up a catch on the off-side. Just like that, South Africa were two down.
The departure of Amla brought De Villiers to the crease. Playing in his first Test since January 2016, De Villiers looked to boost the scoring rate and ensure that South Africa went to the break with some momentum.
It will be interesting to see how De Villiers approaches the second session at St Georges Park. Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer kept De Villiers – one of the best players of spin in world cricket – relatively quiet before tea. It shouldn’t be too long, though, before De Villiers takes the fight to the leg-break bowler.
SA 96-2 (1st innings) – Aiden Markram 44 not out, Dean Elgar 31, Kyle Jarvis 1-22
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