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IND vs SA 1st Test: After KL's special ton, Elgar replies with ferocious hundred

Updated on: 28 December,2023 07:00 AM IST  |  Centurion
R Kaushik |

Wicketkeeper-batsman Rahul stands tall with incredible ton as India get cleaned up for 245; South Africa opener Elgar’s unbeaten 140 puts hosts on top at SuperSport Park

IND vs SA 1st Test: After KL's special ton, Elgar replies with ferocious hundred

KL Rahul celebrates his century v South Africa in Centurion yesterday. Pic/PTI

If it was the ball that dominated Tuesday’s exchanges, then it was the turn of the bat to call the shots on the second day of the first Test. On Wednesday morning, KL Rahul became the first overseas batsman to make two Test centuries at SuperSport Park; by the evening, Dean Elgar was the talk of the town with a ferocious 14th Test hundred that masked the sustained assistance which went unexploited by India’s quicks.

Rahul’s eighth ton

Rahul’s eighth century, his sixth outside the subcontinent, had helped India extend their overnight 208 for eight to 245, not a mean total given the overhead conditions and the seam and bounce. While Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj were excellent in their first spells and not too much off the mark for the rest of the day, back-up quicks Shardul Thakur and Prasidh Krishna didn’t quite measure up, throwing up too many easy offerings and allowing Elgar and debutant David Bedingham to make merry.

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South Africa’s Dean Elgar celebrates his century against India at SuperSport Park yesterday. Pic/AFP
South Africa’s Dean Elgar celebrates his century against India at SuperSport Park yesterday. Pic/AFP

Elgar’s punchy unbeaten 140 and his 131-run fourth-wicket partnership with the right-handed Bedingham took South Africa past India’s tally and 11 runs into the lead when bad light halted play at 256 for five. India will do well to spend the next few hours introspecting on what they didn’t do right on Wednesday and coming up with better plans on the morrow if they aren’t to fall too far behind on the first count.

Elgar has made a reputation of being a stodgy, defensive opening bat who places a premium on his scalp and who seldom breaks out in a flurry of boundaries. But such was the inviting fare from Prasidh and Thakur – between them, they conceded 17 fours and two sixes in 27 overs – that even he couldn’t help himself as he unleashed magnificent strokes lapped up by a good-natured, good-sized crowd.

Markram departs early

Elgar lost opening partner Aiden Markram in the fourth over, caught behind off Siraj, but Tony de Zorzi helped him add 93 for the second wicket when India operated with Prasidh and Thakur in the immediacy of the lunch break. On the odd occasion when they hit the right channels, they did ask uncomfortable questions, but those weren’t frequent enough to create relentless pressure.

It wasn’t until Bumrah returned for his second spell that India broke through, de Zorzi and Keegan Petersen falling in quick time. But the classy Bedingham, who came up with some of the most gorgeous drives of the day, and Elgar repelled the mini fightback with increasing authority, driving Rohit Sharma to distraction.

India were reconciling themselves to a long haul when, after reaching his fifty, Bedingham fell to a lazy stroke, bowled through the gate by Siraj. Prasidh made Kyle Verreynne his first Test victim in the next over and bad light stopped play a little later, India grateful for the two late strikes that salvaged the day somewhat.

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