South Africa make strong start

Published: Friday 26th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis made the most of their let-offs to score 121 and 99 not out respectively as South Africa bossed the opening day of the second Test against West Indies in Port Elizabeth.

Elgar survived a missed stumping while Du Plessis was dropped twice during a 179-run stand between the pair for the second wicket as South Africa closed on 270 for two.

Elgar made the bigger contribution to the partnership before he became West Indies’ debutant Kenroy Peters’ first Test wicket, while Du Plessis ended the day one run short of his milestone as South Africa made a good start in their bid to take an unassailable 2-0 series lead.

In contrast to the Boxing Day fireworks in Christchurch where New Zealand averaged almost five and a half runs an over in reaching 429 on day one of their Test against Sri Lanka, it was steady rather than spectacular for the most part in Port Elizabeth.

South Africa, the world’s top-ranked Test team, were sent into bat at St George’s Park and made a decent start with Elgar and Alviro Petersen putting on 47 at a healthy rate for the first wicket before the latter became the Windies’ first victim.

It was not a dismissal Petersen will want to see again in a hurry, with the opener chasing a short wide ball from Shannon Gabriel and succeeding only in lofting a catch to Leon Johnson at backward point

That was an unexpected boost for the tourists, but they would only celebrate one more breakthrough before the close – and that came in the final session.

It was not as though West Indies were without their chances, however .

Du Plessis had clawed his way to eight off 45 balls when he offered his first opportunity, but Marlon Samuels spilled the catch at gully off the bowling of Jerome Taylor.

Du Plessis then had another life on 26 when he was dropped in the slips off Sulieman Benn, while from the very next ball West Indies wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin missed a great chance to stump Elgar, who had come down the pitch.

None of those chances were taken, and the two South Africans made the Windies pay.

Elgar brought up his third Test century with a drive for four off Taylor, and he passed his best score for his country before falling when he nicked Peters behind to Ramdin.

The left-hander had faced 239 balls and struck 18 fours, but the West Indies’ joy at finally getting rid of the opener would have been tempered somewhat by the subsequent arrival of South Africa captain Hashim Amla.

While Amla sedately made his way to 17 not out by the close, all eyes were on Du Plessis to see if he could follow Elgar to three figures.

A four in the penultimate over took him to 96 but, despite facing eight of the day’s final nine deliveries after that, he could only add three more runs to his total to end tantalisingly short of his ton.

Published: Friday 26th December 2014 by The News Editor

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