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Proteas keep their nerve on day one of first Test against Bangladesh

Proteas’ vice captain Temba Bavuma plays the ball during the first Test against Bangladesh at Kingsmead Stadium in Durban on Wednesday
Proteas’ vice-captain Temba Bavuma plays the ball during the first Test against Bangladesh at Kingsmead Stadium in Durban on Wednesday. Picture: Gerhard Duraan, BackpagePix

The Proteas will feel better about themselves going into day two of the first Test against Bangladesh at Kingsmead in Durban.

Johannesburg — Opportunities abound at Kingsmead. For players making debuts and teams missing stars, for World Test Championship points and more history in the case of Bangladesh.

South Africa got the authoritative start the team’s leadership demanded, but they would have headed back to the hotel on Thursday night pondering the missed opportunities.

Three of the dismissals were gifts to the tourists, everyone got into double figures, but that Dean Elgar’s 67 was the highest score indicates batters not taking advantage of starts.

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Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque had chosen to bowl after winning the toss, possibly seduced by the extra grass covering on the surface, a somewhat unusual sight at the venue in recent seasons. There was help for the seamers but Bangladesh weren’t good enough to exploit it in the morning.

There were too many short balls, especially in the first hour, and Elgar was dominant taking just 60 balls to score his 20th Test half-century, striking nine fours.

Elgar and Sarel Erwee shared an opening partnership of 113 runs – the first century stand for the Proteas’ first wicket, since the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka in 2020. It was the perfect foundation, and while Erwee was not as fluent as his captain, the resolve with which he played was admirable and valuable but he’ll know he wasted a lot of hard work given the manner of his dismissal.

Bangladesh clearly chatted about the lengths at the lunch break, and despite Ebadot Hossain taking it a little bit too far initially with some full tosses in the first over after the break, the general message had gotten through. The results were evident. As the tourists’ seamers pitched the ball fuller, South Africa’s scoring rate slowed, the batters got frustrated, made some errors and there was one inspirational bit of fielding from Mehidy Hasan that resulted from the home team’s desperation to get the scoreboard ticking.

It was Bangladesh’s best period on the day, one Mominul must have wished could have been produced earlier, but it did mean his side kept a reign on the Proteas.

Elgar was undone by a very good spell by Ebadot, who’d dragged him across to the off-side and then got a ball to lift off the surface catching the South African captain on the glove and with wicket-keeper Liton Das taking a good diving catch.

Erwee fell trying to whack Mehidy’s off-spin through the covers and dragged the ball onto his stumps, while Keegan Petersen was run out for 19 also by Mehidy. In fact in Shakib Al-Hasan’s absence, Mehidy did an outstanding job, keeping the Proteas batters quiet, as along with that run out and the wicket, he conceded just 57 runs in 26 overs, with not a lot of assistance off the surface.

With two frontline spinners in their starting team the South Africans hope that will change of course.

Before that, they need a big first innings total and crucial to them achieving that is Temba Bavuma. He may have felt some responsibility for his role in Petersen’s run out, but was good enough to put it out of his mind, to make a composed half century, his third of the season.

There was a 34-run fourth wicket partnership with debutant Ryan Rickelton, who looked solid until he sloppily pulled Ebadot to Mominul at mid-on after making 21.

Kyle Verryenne too batted with little fuss against a tiring Bangladesh bowling unit in the final session, sharing an as yet unbeaten 53-run sixth wicket partnership with Bavuma, who finished the day not out on 53.

The Proteas will feel better about themselves ahead of day two. They have done a better job filling the holes left by IPL departures, while Bangladesh did look like they were missing an extra bowler – a job Shakib would have filled.


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