Centurion: Cricket is a funny game; the deserved at times do not get what they deserve. Aiden Markram (94, 150b, 15×4) did not get the century on his home ground, he richly deserved, Hashim Amla (82, 155b, 14×4) also did not get the hundred he should have. On the other hand, India who did not deserve six wickets on the day, got so.
South Africa at 246 for three in 80.4 overs lost three wickets in the space of 13 deliveries and were reduced to 252 for six. They ended day one of the second Test against India at the Super Sports Park here on 269 for six with Faf du Plessis (24 batting) and Keshav Maharaj (10 batting) at the crease. From nowhere, the visitors were suddenly back in reckoning.
Ravi Ashwin (3/90), however richly deserved the three wickets, but more importantly it was two runouts in the last session that put South Africa on the mat. First, a brilliant piece of fielding by Hardik Pandya saw the back of Amla. The batsman hesitated at Faf du Plessis’s call before setting off and the bowler in a flash swooped down to pick the red cherry up and then throw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end.
Then Vernon Philander went aimlessly about for a run in spite of Du Plessis shouting himself hoarse with ‘no, no’. Pandya at mid-wicket was again in the thick of things as he flicked the ball back to Parthiv Patel behind the stumps to whip off the bails. In between, Quinton de Kock had lasted two balls, beaten by the spin of Ashwin and the resultant edge was easily gobbled up by Virat Kohli at first slip. India were suddenly high and flying.
But the first two sessions definitely belonged to South Africa. They reached a healthy 78 without loss at lunch and were 156 for two at tea. India were then looking down the barely with both Amla and AB de Villiers (20) ooking well-settled in the middle.
But then that came later. Till the time he fell six short of his century, Markram showed what class is well about. Tall, elegantly lazy, authoritative, equally balance both front and back-foot, Markram played shots all round the park. If his driving was elegant, his pulls and hooks were dominant. He richly deserved that century that he did not get in front of his parents. Trying a late cut against Ashwin, he was caught behind with the ball hitting the pad to change direction and end up in Patel’s gloves.
Cricket is a funny game, but certainly at that moment, Markram did not find it so.
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