In 2015, a star-studded South Africa side came to India with the tag of being the best touring side in the world. They hadn’t lost a Test series on the road since 2006 and were riding high after winning the white-ball leg of the tour. But the Test series proved to be nothing sort of a nightmare. On square-turners masquerading as Test match pitches, the Proteas were humbled 0-3.
The 20-year-old Aiden Markram wasn’t the part of the set-up back then but several members of his team were part of that team four years ago. And, Markram recognizes the challenged that lay ahead but also insisted that ‘We’re not going to harp on about the conditions,’ after scoring a nonchalant 161 against India A recently.
On Friday, the 24-year-old walked his talk once again as he churned out yet another score of substance in what was effectively the first day of South Africa’s three-day practice game against Rohit Sharma‘s Board Presidents XI. Markram breezed past 100 off just 118 balls, spearheading his side’s eventual total of 4-199 before bad light forced a premature halt to the days’ proceedings.
Middle-order crumbles for the visitors
After the first day got washed out, play finally got underway when South African captain Faf du Plessis won the toss and opted to bat first. And, it didn’t start particularly well. Umesh Yadav, who replaced Jasprit Bumrah in Test squad courtesy latter’s injury, set the ball rolling when he got rid of opener Dean Elgar for 6 in the 7th over.
It soon became 2-33 when the first-change bowler Ishan Porel pinned Theunis de Bruyn in the 13th over. The wickets falling at other end didn’t bother the free-flowing Markram one bit. The right-hander looked in imperious touch, stroking boundaries. He got an able company of Zubayr Hamza and the duo went to stitch a crucial 55-runs for the third wicket.
But Hamza, unlike Markram, could not cash-in on his start and fell prey to the spin of Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, after scoring a 26-ball 22. At 3-78, South Africa needed a solid partnership to harbour any chance of getting a competitive total and it came via Markram and Tenda Bavuma.
Bavuma, who impressed during the T20I series, scored an unbeaten 92-ball 55 and added 121 runs with Markram for the fourth wicket. Markram went on to complete his second hundred on Indian soil within a space of two weeks, backing his 161 with another dominant knock of 100 (118).
Du Plessis, who strode out to bat after Markram walked retired, was Dharmendrasinh Jadeja’s second wicket of the innings before the day was abruptly brought to an end courtesy bad light.
South Africa: 4-199 after 50 overs (Aiden Markram 100 (retd), Tenda Bavuma 55, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 2-53)
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