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Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis punished the West Indies for fielding lapses as South Africa built a strong position on the first day of the second Test in Port Elizabeth on Friday. South Africa were 270 for two at the close after being sent in to bat in overcast conditions at St George’s Park.
Elgar made a Test-best 121 and shared a second wicket partnership of 179 with Du Plessis, who finished the day on 99 not out.
The West Indies missed four chances to break the Elgar-Du Plessis stand. The West Indian bowlers could feel aggrieved as they bowled with much better control and discipline than they did in Centurion where they were heavily beaten by an innings and 220 runs in the first Test.
Du Plessis was put down by Marlon Samuels at gully off Jerome Taylor when he had eight and again by Devon Smith diving to his right off left-arm spinner Suleiman Benn when he had 26.
One ball after Du Plessis’ second escape, the left-handed Elgar went down the wicket to Benn and was well out of his ground as the ball squeezed through to hit low on the pad of captain and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin. Elgar was on 48 and to add insult to the disappointed bowler he went down the wicket again and lofted Benn to the straight boundary to raise his fifty.
Elgar could have been run out on 73. After a mix-up with Du Plessis, he was several metres short of safety when Kenroy Peters’ throw from midwicket missed the stumps at the bowler’s end.
West Indian troubles did not end with the missed chances. Benn left the field after falling heavily while trying to stop an Elgar drive.
Holder was prevented from bowling in Benn’s place in the next over because he had not been on the field long enough after being treated for a hand injury. Instead Taylor had to fill in at a time when he would have expected to be resting up ahead of taking the second new ball.
Benn returned in time to bowl four overs before the close as the West Indies delayed taking the new ball until the last over of the day. The left-handed Elgar made his third Test century — and his second at St George’s Park — where he has now scored 323 runs in three Tests at an average of 107.66 compared to 362 runs at 22.62 in 11 appearances at other venues.
It was slow going for much of the day, with South Africa seldom getting their run rate above three an over. Elgar took 127 balls to reach 50 and 208 balls for his century. He batted with more fluency later in his innings and had faced 239 deliveries, hitting 18 fours, when he edged a catch to Ramdin off debutant left-arm seamer Kenroy Peters. Du Plessis was even slower than Elgar in reaching a half-century off 137 balls. He faced 228 balls before the close and hit 12 fours and two sixes.
Elgar and Alviro Petersen put on 47 for the first wicket before Petersen played a rash stroke against Shannon Gabriel and was caught by Leon Johnson, running back from cover. Peters and Gabriel were among three seam bowling changes in the West Indian bowling line-up, with the tall Holder also getting his first game of the series.
Bavuma makes history
Batsman Temba Bavuma became the sixth black African — and the first since Lonwabo Tsotsobe four seasons ago — to play Test cricket for South Africa. He replaced the injured Quinton de Kock. He was the 85th player to be capped since South Africa returned to Test cricket in 1992.
Leg-spinner Imran Tahir replaced seamer Kyle Abbott, with spin expected to be a factor on the St George’s Park pitch. AB de Villiers, who will continue to keep wicket as he did in both West Indies innings in the first Test after De Kock’s injury, played in his 97th consecutive Test since his debut ten years ago. De Villiers moved one ahead of Australia’s Adam Gilchrist, the previous record-holder for most consecutive Tests from debut.
Brief scores: South Africa 270/2 in 88 overs (D Elgar 121, F du Plessis 99 batting , S Gabriel 1/52, K Peters 1/44)