Africa

Maharaj, Harmer put Proteas on brink of first Test win against Bangladesh



South Africa may have collapsed to just 204 all out in their second innings, but the 69-run lead they had in the kitty has left Bangladesh with a stiff target to chase and the tourists’ batsmen will find no shelter from the Kingsmead pitch either as there is sharp turn on offer and the seamers are also posing challenges in the first Test in Durban.

Needing 274 for victory, Bangladesh had crashed to 11/3 at stumps on the fourth day on Sunday, as Proteas spinners Keshav Maharaj (3-0-7-2) and Simon Harmer (3-1-4-1) caused devastation to the top-order.

South Africa’s batting coach Justin Sammons unpacked the challenges their batsmen faced on Sunday, with conditions likely to only get tougher on Monday’s final day.

ALSO READ: Proteas take control, with Bangladesh left in a spin

“The ball is gripping and it has turned more as the game has gone on. Against seam, the scoring rate is tough to get up if the bowlers hit those probing lengths, hitting straight is not going to give you much reward,” Sammons said.

“And there’s a bit of reverse swing on offer as well, which makes it really tricky. Bangladesh, with the lengths they hit, showed their skill and their ability to make the ball tail towards the end as well.

“Spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz bowled with great discipline and control as well. So we had to bat really well to get to 204.

“But if you dig in then it’s not the sort of pitch you will get blasted out on,” Sammons said.

Spin or pace?

Although the fading light prevented South Africa from using their pace bowlers with the new ball at the start of the Bangladesh innings, it will be interesting to see if the Proteas go with the successful Maharaj/Harmer combination first thing on Monday morning, or give Lizaad Williams and Duanne Olivier a burst with the shiny ball.

Sammons said there had been some talk about starting with one seamer and one spinner on Sunday afternoon.

Maharaj’s two wickets saw him go past fellow left-hander Paul Adams as the leading wicket-taker among South African spinners post-isolation, with 136 in 41 Tests at an average of 32.93.

Captain Dean Elgar again anchored South Africa’s batting effort as he completed half-centuries in both innings, with his 64 providing a great platform for the innings.

He and Keegan Petersen (36) combined for a 68-run second-wicket partnership, the biggest of the innings, while debutant Ryan Rickelton showed good composure under pressure as he scored 39 not out while wickets tumbled at the other end.

Offie Mehidy (35-6-85-3) and fast bowler Ebadot Hossain (13-1-40-3) combined most effectively with the ball for Bangladesh. Taskin Ahmed, who had to periodically go off the field to have a shoulder injury treated, chipped in manfully with 2/24 in 11 overs.

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