Betway Test Series - South Africa Vs Sri Lanka
1st Test - Centurion - Day 2
South Africa bounced back on day two to bowl out Sri Lanka and then hit back scoring runs at a blistering pace, to end the day on 317 for 4, in the 1st Test of the Betway Test Series game played at the Centurion in South Africa yesterday.
Up until yesterday Greek legends had told us that the protea, a flower that represents South Africa with a 3000 million history, had strange mythological associations to change and transform.
Yes, it was a myth perhaps until yesterday, as the South African batsmen went on to prove it was a fact indeed, as they changed the course of the game by transforming defense into attack in response to Sri Lanka's total of 396 all out.
This fact could be further endorsed as according to the language of flowers, the protea also symbolizes both diversity and courage.
It was an outstanding response with three of their batsmen racking up fifties, whilst maintaining a healthy run rate of 4.40 in the process.
South Africa now trail Sri Lanka by 79 runs in the first innings with six wickets remaining.
To add to Sri Lanka's woes, paceman Kasun Rajitha bowled just 13 deliveries before leaving the field with a groin injury.
Kasun Rajitha, like his teammate Dhananjaya De Silva who was ruled out on day one, when he suffered a thigh strain will not take any further part in this game, leaving the visitors to battle the rest of the match with only nine players and two substitutes who could only field.
South Africa's dominance with the bat commenced from the onset as their openers Dean Elgar and Aidan Markram walked into the middle and played a brand of cricket that is usually unseen.
The duo, especially Elgar who is known more to be a grafter of runs, thrashed the bowlers to all parts of the grounds with some proper orthodox cricket shots and put together 141 runs for the opening wicket inside 29 overs.
If in the event you did not watch this partnership then probably it could be best described statistically.
Elgar, a veteran of 63 Test matches, has an overall strike rate of 45.89, whilst Markram's strike rate is 63.57 in the 20 test matches that he has played in.
The two openers who both represent the Titans domestically, with the Centurion also being their home ground, clobbered 30 boundaries between them, while registering their runs with strike rates of 72.34 by Markram and 73.80 by Elgar.
The Sri Lankan bowlers and fielders contributed much towards this carnage, as none of the bowlers could string together six good decent balls in an over.
Their felders let them down too fumbling over and over and at times seen diving over the ball too.
Besides Lahiru Kumara who has played 21 test matches the other bowlers Vishwa Fernando and Dasun Shanaka had 11 test matches between them with Waninudu Hasaranga making his debut.
That is how powerful Sri Lanka's attack is going to be for the next three days.
Aidan Markram was the first to go, when he was caught in the gully by Dasun Shanaka off Vishwa Fernando. He made a solid 68 runs with 52 of those runs coming off 14 sweetly timed boundaries.
A further 59 runs was then added between Elgar who was well on his way to score his first century at the Centurion and one drop batsman Rassie van de Dussen.
However with the score at 200 for 1 Sri Lanka struck a double blow to have the proteas at 200 for 3.
First to go was Rassie van de Dussen, who got the perfect ball that all bowlers have been dreaming of bowling on this track, when Lahiru Kumara pitched one on the off stump, induced the batsman to play on the front foot and make the ball shave off the bats blade to be caught behind. Rassie made a quiet 15 runs before he departed.
Elgar who was batting superbly until then had raced along to 95, when much against the run of play he drove one back to Dasun Shanaka to be well caught on his follow through.
Elgar was just five runs short of that century that continues to evade him at the Centurion.
Skipper Quinton de Kock's stay at the crease was brief and he soon departed for 18 runs scored off 11 balls, to give Sri Lanka's debutant Hasaranga De Silva his maiden test wicket.
Thereafter, South African's former skipper Faf du Plessis and Temba Bavuma continued to maintain the momentum in putting together an unbroken 97 run stand, in slightly less than 25 overs to see their side through to the close of play.
Earlier in the day Sri Lanka resumed at 340 for 6 and went on to eventually end their innings at 396 for 9, with the Dhananjaya de Silva who had retired hurt the previous day, unable to bat.
Dasun Shanaka Sri Lanka's promising batting all-rounder, finally proved what that he belongs to the big stage, when he flayed 5 sixes and 3 fours and remained unbeaten on 66. This was his maiden test 50.
He put on an invaluable 57 run partnership with Kasun Rajitha off 16.5 overs with almost 14 of them being after the second new ball was taken.
The Centurion Grounds has an interesting history, as it was at this very same venue almost 20 years ago, that the 'famous then and infamous now' test match took place between South Africa led by the late Hansie Cronje and England led by Nasser Hussein forfeited an innings each, to extract a result after almost three days of play was washed out due to rain.
The two captains were applauded globally for their collective decisions, including praise that came from Sri Lanka's former skipper Arjuna Ranatunga, for resurrecting a dead game of cricket only to subsequently find out that the ugly hand of bookies and match fixers were behind it.
If the famous story of the "Leather jacket and SA R53,000" had not been exposed at the concluded Justice E. L. King led Commission of Inquiry into Cricket Match Fixing and Related Matters in June 2000, the Centurion Grounds as a venue would have gone down in history for staging one of the most extraordinary and legitimate games of test cricket that was ever played in the true spirit and according to the stipulated laws of the game.