Temba Bavuma delivers 180 in highest first-class score
It may be too early to say Temba Bavuma has played himself back into form‚ but his 180 for the Lions against the Dolphins in Pietermaritzburg can't be scoffed at.
The end result will say the Lions failed in their massive chase of 430 by 130 runs‚ but the fact they got that close was because of Bavuma's 15th and highest first-class ton.
Bavuma was controversially dropped from the Proteas Test team because of indifferent form‚ something that wasn't communicated clearly by South Africa's coaching think-tank led by team director Mark Boucher and captain Faf du Plessis.
Bavuma didn't get going in his first game back for the Lions last week. He only made nine in a 10-wicket win against the Knights.
However‚ when the batting collapsed in the second innings after a first innings malfunction‚ his score was only one above 30.
It was a timely reminder in regards with his abilities and how spending time in first-class class cricket can be refreshing.
Bavuma said he felt good during the knock‚ even though he could have done better in the first innings.
“Not to be arrogant but I felt good‚ even in the first innings.
"It was a good wicket that deteriorated quite quickly‚ but it was a good wicket that required good plans against the spinners‚” Bavuma said.
“If you had good plans against the spinners and stuck to them‚ there were runs out there‚ but I felt good from the first innings.
"There was a soft first innings dismissal but in the second innings‚ I tried to make things right.”
Bavuma's dropping has been widely politicised to a point where even opportunists jumped onto the transformation bandwagon without the requisite understanding of the game.
However‚ his 2019 Test numbers didn't warrant him staying in the team.
His 180 was 69.76 percent of the Test runs he scored in 2019 and while there's a massive gulf between Test and franchise cricket‚ the runs and the confidences counts massively for Bavuma.
The critical components of his innings was how he took responsibility for the batting mess around him and how fluent his knock was.
While it had an element of futility‚ his hundred came off 153 balls while his 150 was raised in 231.
In all‚ his knock came off 282 balls with 24 fours while his runs were 60.20 percent of the Lions second innings total.
For Bavuma‚ it was more about the Lions not winning nor saving the game because as defending champions and log leaders‚ points for them would have applied pressure on the chasing pack.
“The result is what comes first and I'm disappointed that I couldn't take it all the way but we fought hard.
"Credit has to be given to the batters in the second innings like the lower order guys who put a heavy price on their wicket‚” Bavuma said.
“Personally‚ it's always awesome to contribute to the team. I'm someone who has been trying to rack up those big scores. The opportunity was there today and I was able to grab it with both hands.”
Should this innings catapult him back into the Test team?
It's a tricky one‚ considering he made 17 in the first innings before batting with an assured vengeance in the second.
He will have been helped by Theunis de Bruyn's twin failures (first-ball duck and eight) for the Titans against the Cape Cobras at Newlands‚ but the Lions face the Titans at SuperSport Park in Centurion next week.
The competition takes a break until the end of March where the Lions will wrap up their campaign against the Cape Cobras in Cape Town and the Warriors in Potchefstroom.
This could stall some momentum‚ unless he's picked for one of the limited over's squads for the white-ball series against England and Australia.
He still has six innings to prove his worth from a weight of runs perspective‚ even though SA's next Test assignment after England will be in July in the West Indies.
Bavuma wasn't the only one among the big runs as Titans opener Tony de Zorzi racked up an unbeaten 231 off 351 balls at Newlands while other tons in the game were scored by Hardus Viljoen (132) for the Titans while Matthew Kleinveldt (142) and George Linde (148) were imperious for the Cobras.
Matthew Breetzke's 109 for the Warriors couldn't stave off a 10-wicket against the Knights.
In their first innings against the Lions‚ Sarel Erwee (136) and Marques Ackermann (107) drove the agenda for the Dolphins in their eventual win.