West Indies hit back after fifties from Markram and de Zorzi
SUMMARY: South Africa 311-7 from 89.2 overs (Aiden Markram 96, Tony de Zorzi 85; Gudakesh Motie 3-75) vs West Indies
Aiden Markram and Tony de Zorzi fell short of their hundreds as West Indies roared back into the game through Gudakesh Motie, Jason Holder and Kyle Mayers after tea on an atypically dry Wanderers pitch.
Motie, the left-arm finger-spinner, dismissed both the set batters to weaken the strong foundation they had laid earlier in the day. From 248-2, South Africa suddenly slid to 311-7 by stumps.
When Markram was in supreme control, South Africa were rattling along at over four runs an over. Motie, who was working his way back from a lower-back injury, shook off the rust in the last session and combined well with Holder to apply the brakes on South Africa.
Roston Chase, the other spinner, also found grip, turn, and bounce, which could pique the interest of South Africa’s own spinners.
The hosts had also picked two specialist spinners – Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer – in a rare instance. It was so rare that the last time South Africa played two spinners in Johannesburg was way back in 1965.
For Markram, it was business as usual, after South Africa had opted to take first strike. He unfurled a variety of picture-perfect drives, both off the front foot and back, in the front of square. When West Indies shortened their length, Markram was also quickly in position to pull them away.
When he was on the verge of his hundred, though, he tried to manufacture a sweep behind the wicket and ended up lobbing it to slip off the toe end. It snapped a breezy 116-run second-wicket partnership with de Zorzi.
De Zorzi reached his maiden Test half-century and continued to score freely until the final session of the day. He managed only ten runs off 31 balls after tea as Motie and Holder tightened up their lines and lengths.
Motie bowled de Zorzi with delightful turn and drift from over the wicket while Holder had Temba Bavuma offering no shot to an inducker after having plugged away outside off.
Alzarri Joseph then had Ryan Rickleton slashing behind to Joshua Da Silva for 22 off 49 balls. Then, just before stumps, Mayers got rid of both Wiaan Mulder and Harmer with the second new ball.
The clatter of wickets in the last session – five in all – starkly contrasted with the passage of play in the morning session, when West Indies struck just once.
West Indies’ fast bowlers had looked to pepper Dean Elgar with the new ball, but every time they dug the ball into the pitch, it sat up, allowing the batter more time to put them away. Motie then dropped one just short of a sweeping length and had Elgar caught at short fine leg for 42.
Markram, who scored 115 and 47 in the Centurion Test, looked good for back-to-back hundreds, but he fell agonisingly short of the mark. De Zorzi was also denied a ton and was part of a late collapse that dragged West Indies closer to parity.
However, with the surface expected to slow down and deteriorate as the match wears on, South Africa might feel like they already have a healthy score on the board. (ESPNcricinfo)