Elgar sparkles with 13th Test ton to put SA in driving seat

04 January 2021 - 12:51 By liam del carme
Bagging a pair on Test debut against Australia back in 2012‚ Elgar didn't exactly take to Test cricket like a duck to water.
Bagging a pair on Test debut against Australia back in 2012‚ Elgar didn't exactly take to Test cricket like a duck to water.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Sri Lanka made inroads but South Africa still hold the whip hand at lunch on day two of the second Test at the Wanderers on Monday.

The hosts had reached 256/5 in their first innings and lead by 99 thanks largely due to the exploits of Dean Elgar (127) and Rassie van der Dussen (67) who looked set for even more substantial scores before they were sent packing.

Elgar, who recorded his 13th Test century, continued his good form in the series but would have been disappointed at not cashing in further.

Still‚ he continues to enhance his reputation as a redoubtable Test opener.

Bagging a pair on Test debut against Australia back in 2012‚ Elgar didn't exactly take to Test cricket like a duck to water.

A similar fate befell Graham Gooch in 1975‚ but the former England captain rose from those ashes and will remind that as pairs are grown with the passage of time‚ reputations are forged.

The nuggety South African opener has since set about carving out a Test career built on grit and bucket loads of determination.

Effective rather than elegant‚ Elgar has become the mainstay at the top of the South African order and again proved the glue as South Africa played themselves into a position of strength.

They did however undo some of their good work as Sri Lanka struck some telling blows after the morning drinks break‚ bagging four wickets in the hour before lunch.

South Africa had reached the mini interval untroubled but two balls after the resumption Elgar nicked a regulation catch to first slip.

Elgar went past the 4,000 Test run mark earlier in this innings and at stumps on day one was closing in on his 13th Test ton.

He didn't have to wait long to bring up the mark.

A man who usually goes about his business at an unhurried strike rate of 46 at this level‚ had scored at 76.7 by the time he brought up his ton.

The Sri Lankan breakthrough proved timely as the signs had started to look ominous with Van der Dussen also starting to time the ball with greater assurance. Elgar and Van der Dussen are now in possession of the record second wicket partnership at this ground‚ surpassing the mark set by Andrew Strauss and Robert Key.

They put on 184 but both fell with the score on 218.

If Elgar's nick came out of the blue‚ Van der Dussen's dismissal would have knocked some over with a feather after he followed a Dasun Shanaka delivery down the leg side.

Both looked completely at ease at the crease in the opening hour on day two as the sun increasingly broke through the generous cloud cover.

Asitha Fernando gifted Van der Dussen a long hop with his first delivery of the day‚ while Elgar got in on the act with a contemptuous cut for four off Vishwa Fernando in the next over.

That delivery however‚ wasn't nearly as charitable as the innocuous one that he flat batted to the right of cover to bring up his ton.

That delivery perhaps embodied the Sri Lankan effort in the first half of the morning session.

They couldn't settle on a length and when they weren't too short‚ presented the South African batsmen deliveries that proved eminently drivable.

Van der Dussen, in particular‚ punched through the covers and down the ground with authority.

He went to his fourth Test half century with a straight drive off Asitha Fernando but cut a disconsolate figure after a review confirmed that he would be denied a potential run feast in the afternoon.

Faf du Plessis (8) and Quinton de Kock (10) also fell before the break‚ perhaps bringing the conclusion of this Test into sharper focus.