DEAN ELGAR and Quinton de Kock both scored their maiden Test centuries against India as the Standard Bank Proteas fought back impressively on the third day of the first Test match at Vizakhapatnam on Friday.
The fact that they both did it on the sub-continent represented an important turning point for this relatively inexperienced batting line-up as they head into an important summer that also includes a home Test series against England.
This performance, which saw the Proteas score at more than 3.5 to the over throughout the day’s play, is bound to rub off on all their team mates and to give them further confidence and momentum as the current series progresses.
In all, the Proteas scored 346 runs in the day’s play which crucially cut their first innings deficit against India to a more manageable 117 with two wickets still in hand.
The Proteas suffered the early loss of Temba Bavuma to a delivery from Ishant Sharma that jagged back off the surface and kept low before Elgar and Faf du Plessis put on 115 for the fifth wicket and then Elgar and De Kock added a South African record sixth wicket stand against India of 164, surpassing the previous record of Andrew Hall and Zander de Bruyn.
Elgar joined an elite club of Proteas who have scored more than 150 in a Test match in India before finishing on 160 (287 balls, 18 fours and 4 sixes) while De Kock continued his golden run of form on this tour with 111 (163 balls, 16 fours and 2 sixes). It was Elgar’s 12th century overall and De Kock’s 5th while Elgar has now made Test match centuries against seven different countries.
Du Plessis also made his highest Test score in India of 55 (103 balls, 8 fours and a six).
Nothing illustrated the new approach the Proteas showed today than the fact that both Elgar and De Kock struck sixes to reach their centuries. And, in this regard, the role of assistant batting coach, Amol Muzumdar, has clearly played a role.
Both India’s mainstream spinners, Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, conceded more than three runs to the over and, although they took seven of the eight wickets to fall between them – Ashwin took 5/128 for his 28th five-wicket haul – they had to bowl a lot of overs to do so.
The strong batting effort also meant that South Africa’s key bowler in the second half of the match, Keshav Maharaj, was granted a full day of rest after the 55 bowlers he sent down over the first two days.
Today’s centuries were the first that the Proteas have scored in a Test match in India since 2010 when Hashim Amla made a double century in the first Test and centuries in each innings in the second.
The Proteas are still significantly behind on the first innings, but they have sent a clear message of intent for the rest of the series and indeed for the future of the current era under Du Plessis and head coach Enoch Nkwe.