Cape Town - JP Duminy and Dean Elgar both scored the fifth centuries of their respective Test careers as they left Australia with the prospect of having to make a record runs chase for victory at the end of the third day of the first Test at the WACA.
STUMPS: Australia v Proteas - Day - WACA, Perth
The Proteas closed the day on 390/6 for an
overall lead of 388 runs and, with Quinton de Kock and Vernon Philander having
already shared an unbroken stand of 38 for the seventh wicket, there is every
prospect of Australia’s target going beyond the 414 that the Proteas themselves
scored on this ground in 2008 and the world record chase of 418 achieved by the
West Indies, also against Australia.
Duminy (141 off 225 balls, 20 fours and a six) and Elgar (a
career best 127, 316 balls, 17 fours and a six) shared a third wicket stand of
250 in 74.2 overs which has only been surpassed for South Africa in Australia
for the third wicket by the legendary 341 by Eddie Barlow and Graeme Pollock at
the Adelaide Oval in 1964.
The important point about the stand was that it set the
stage for the Proteas to win at least five sessions in a row and to drain most
of the energy from the Australian attack. The put on 79 in the first session,
and a further 112 in the second before Duminy was dismissed in the tea over,
and made possible the 96/3 in the final session of the day.
This was as fine an innings as Duminy has played for South
Africa. His timing and placement were sublime with his driving through the
covers and straight down the ground being outstanding. He also showed much
improved technique in dealing with short-pitched deliveries aimed at the body
and all South Africans will be hoping that he will take this form forward on a
The move to No. 4 has undoubtedly played a part in defining
his role in the team.
Elgar’s innings was a tremendous testimony to his tenacity,
mental strength and character. Having been dismissed for a pair on his debut at
this same ground four years ago, he put past history behind him and dove-tailed
perfectly with Duminy. As always he had the bulldog approach rather than the
craftsmanship of Duminy and he made a significant contribution when he thumped Australian
spinner Nathan Lyon for a succession of boundaries on Friday.
This seemed to contribute to Steve Smith’s reluctance to
bowl Lyon at all during the morning session and sparingly thereafter.
Australia put up a gallant bowling performance throughout
the day in extremely trying circumstances and probably produced their best
bowling in the final session when they took three wickets.
Significantly the right-handed batsmen appeared to have a
harder struggle than the left-handers as the seamers were able to hit the
widening crack running down the pitch outside the off-stump, causing excessive
deviation and lift.
It is something that will not be lost on Philander and
Kagiso Rabada when it comes to their turn to bowl to Australia who have four
right-handers in their top seven.
One way and another it was a great day for South African
cricket, not least being the fact that they have underlined their ability to
fight their way out of any adverse circumstance they encounter going forward.