Cape Town - Proteas opening batsman Dean Elgar's morale-lifting century on day three of the first Test against India at Visakhapatnam on Friday was a bogey-breaker in more ways than one.
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The diminutive left-hander ended a barren period in the centuries column both personally and from a broader South African perspective specifically in India.
At the time of writing, he had advanced to 111 not out and the Proteas were 229 for five in reply to India’s formidable first innings of 502 for seven declared - and suddenly in with a much better chance of staving off a possible follow-on as they edged toward the requirement of 303 to do so.
Elgar had shown a commendable mix of watchfulness and controlled aggression at times, the latter phenomenon coming into play as he reached three figures (175 balls) with a lofted sweep for six off dangerman off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Helped by a stabilising fifth-wicket partnership of 115 with captain Faf du Plessis (55), it was his first ton in 18 innings since his last in the format against Australia at Newlands in March 2018 - the longest he has ever gone in innings terms without one.
His 12th Test century, it was also his first in India.
But from a team point of view, it was doubly pleasing: the first Proteas ton in that country since Hashim Amla ended his dazzling 2010 tour there with 123 not out in Kolkata, so more than nine years ago.
No SA centuries were recorded on the disastrous 2015 tour (0-3 outcome), AB de Villiers’s 85 being the top score registered amidst some routinely flimsy batting showings by the visitors collectively.
*Another statistical quirk is that Elgar has shifted up to third among batsmen sporting the most Test centuries after beginning their careers with a debut “pair” (in his case against Australia in Perth, November 2012).
Ahead of his dozen in that regard are only England’s Graham Gooch (20) and Sri Lanka’s Marvan Atapattu (16).
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