AIDEN MARKRAM scored his second century of the series as he laid the perfect foundation for the Standard Bank Proteas as they started their quest to win their first home Test series victory against Australia since unity at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on Friday.
The Proteas momentum was, however, slightly set back when Australia fought back to take the wickets of Markram, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers in the space of 52 runs.
The result was that the Proteas reached the close of the final Sunfoil Test match on 313/6 which nevertheless represented a strong position with specialist batsmen Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock at the crease and the all-round skills of Vernon Philander to follow.
After Du Plessis had won the toss Markram set out on his way to his fourth Test century – a career best 152 off 216 balls with 17 fours and a six. He is now part of the select group who have scored more centuries than half-centuries and both he and De Villiers (69 off 119 balls, 7 fours and a six) have gone past 400 runs for the series with nobody else having reached 300 to date.
Markram also has an average of 63 for the series, a career average in the mid-50s and needs only a further 34 runs to reach his first 1 000 career runs in his 10th Test match.
The Proteas gave far and away their most polished top order performance for the series, making more than 300 on the day and having four of their first six partnerships in excess of 50 topped by the 105 that Markram and De Villiers put on for the third wicket.
The Australian fightback was launched by Pat Cummins who has been consistently their best bowler and their leading wicket-taker when he dismissed Markram and Du Plessis with successive balls.
He was then backed up by new cap Chadd Sayers, who took the place of the injured Mitchell Starc, who dismissed De Villiers and night watchman Kagiso Rabada in the space of 3 balls.
The Proteas will now be looking to Bavuma and De Kock to stabilise their position and take them to the 400 mark which is always a commanding first innings total at this venue.