Tons for Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock but SA still under pressure against India
Before Friday, not since 2010 had a South Africa batter scored a century in a men’s Test in India.
And then, suddenly, there were two: Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock added to the honour role in Visakhapatnam with a pair of tons as fine as they were contrasting.
Crusty, cussed Elgar made 160 and bruising, bullish De Kock 111, and together they had plenty to do with South Africa reaching 385/8 at stumps on the third day of the first Test.
Whoop-tee-do. But the visitors are still 117 behind, and Ravichandran Ashwin has taken 5/128 and could well stop their march towards parity in its tracks early on Saturday.
But the follow-on that loomed after Thursday’s play, when South Africa were 39/3 in reply to India’s declaration of 502/7, has melted in Vizag’s heat and humidity.
So, it seems, has the South Africans’ awe of Ashwin — which was a factor in him taking 31 wickets at 11.12, or one every 32 deliveries, in their previous series in India, in November 2015.
“I’m not playing the player, I am playing the ball that’s coming my way,” Elgar told reporters in Vizag after being reminded that Ashwin dismissed him in both innings when Surrey played Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in July.
“He can get me out another 10 times, I couldn’t care. I’m trying to perform. I’m facing the ball coming my way.
“If you face 100 balls, sooner or later he is going to get you out a few times. That’s just the nature of facing that bowler over and over and over. He is going to get you out, just deal with it.
“I’m not going to sweat on how many times he has got me out, how many times he is still going to get me out, which I am comfortable with.
“It’s about how I approach facing the ball that’s coming my way now.”
Elgar, 27 not out at the resumption, saw Temba Bavuma trapped in front in the seventh over of the morning by an inswinger from Ishant Sharma that scudded low into his back pad.
Enter Faf du Plessis to score a flinty 55 and share an industrious stand of 115 that ended weakly when he flicked an Ashwin delivery from the off-side into leg gully’s hands.
Elgar was 92 not out when his captain was dismissed, and went to his century 14 balls later with a meatily slogged sweep off Ashwin that flew for six.
He got there off 175 balls — 26 more than De Kock, who also reached his hundred with a six off Ashwin, this one smote off over extra cover with a knee planted.
Their separation, caused by Elgar’s top-edged sweep to square leg, where Cheteshwar Pujara arrived in a tumble of arms and legs to take the catch after hurrying from the deep, ended the stand at 164 and earned Ravindra Jadeja’s 200th wicket.
Lefties dominate | SA 369-6 after 108 overs— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) October 4, 2019
We've seen 2 scintillating knocks from the 2 left-handers.
These players have different approaches to batting, which knock has been your favourite thus far?
? for Elgar
❤️ for De Kock#ProteaFire #INDvSA pic.twitter.com/4QnhTxQfRR
De Kock went 10 overs later, bowled by a straight delivery from Ashwin that followed two that turned.
As good a job as Elgar and De Kock did, they will have their eyes on another prize.
The previous South Africa batter to celebrate a century in India was Hashim Amla, who scored an undefeated 123 in the second innings to go with the 114 he made in the first dig.
It might well need a century in each innings, or more, to prevent India from winning.
Eighteen of the 28 innings South Africa had in India before this match passed without anyone getting to three figures.
Only four times have two players done so in a single innings, and each time those efforts have been major factors in three of the five victories South Africa have won in India.
Which was the odd time out? In Kolkata nine years ago, when despite Amla’s heroics the home side won by an innings.
So, South Africa are not out of the jungle yet. Mind the tigers, fellas.