Cape Town – If JP Duminy’s Test batting average of 35 still
leaves scope for the suggestion that he skates on thin ice, his second skill is
just one reason why dropping him would never be a straightforward step to take.
The little left-hander came to light as an off-spinner again
for South Africa on day one of the decisive second Test against Bangladesh in
Dhaka on Thursday.
On a day when the indefatigable Dale Steyn rightly hogged
headlines for his advancement to – and a bit beyond, by the close – the
400-wicket mark in the format, Duminy shaded him statistically as his 3/27 more
than matched Steyn’s 3/30.
Thanks primarily to the strike success of these two, Bangladesh
were restricted to a moderate 246 for eight after winning a good toss.
That represented almost indisputable under-delivery by the
hosts after they had lunched at a threatening 75 for one, and Duminy could
certainly be said to have initiated the recession – he removed the two “in”
batsmen, Mominul Haque and Imrul Kayes, in the space of two personal overs very
soon after the break.
The first dismissal also saw Proteas debutant Dane Vilas
earn his maiden catch with the gloves.
Duminy, in his 29th Test, has now bagged three
wickets or more on four occasions, although the odds perhaps seem against him
going on to his best analysis in the five-day game; the quicker men should be
fancied to mop up the Bangladeshi tail especially as a new ball is available
should captain Hashim Amla want it on Friday.
But if he does grab just one further first-knock scalp, he
will almost certainly eclipse his current best haul of 4/73 achieved against
Australia at Newlands in March 2014.
Circumstances were very different on that occasion, and in
many respects his wickets were less valuable as the Aussies were already well
on the way to plundering almost 500 runs after batting first in the third and
final Test – which they later won to edge the series 2-1 – and a spirited slog
was on when Duminy got among the lower order.
Not insignificantly, Steyn had got himself injured pretty
early in that game, straining a hamstring and only contributing 13 overs in the
Whereas Duminy received some tap en route to that Newlands
haul, going at more than four runs to the over, on Thursday the relative
part-timer was South Africa’s most economical bowler as he only leaked at an
admirable rate of 1.80.
That discipline, something exhibited by most of his bowling
colleagues, was vital as several Bangladeshi batsmen eventually succumbed to
impatience rather than any special devil in the track.
Still, the strip at the Shere Bangla National Stadium looks
like getting “interesting” as the game develops – some deliveries were already
going through the top and it may be turning and reversing quite violently come
the middle phase of the Test and beyond.
Former SA left-arm spinner Paul Harris, in SuperSport commentary,
said he believes it is “not a minefield yet” and that day two – when the
Proteas ought to have plenty of time at the crease – should still be largely
favourable for batting.
They need to make that advantage count if so ... even if another
pundit, ex-national coach and seamer Eric Simons, reminded that there are
presently “not the bankers of old” in the batting line-up.
Duminy will be required to play his part as much as anyone
else on that front after his unfortunate golden duck at Chittagong ... but at
least he will take guard in the middle order fuelled by the knowledge that he
has already done his bit for the cause in this fixture.
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