Cricket 13.1.2018 05:20 pm

Big Proteas brain fade keeps honours even

The start of the silly sequence: Hashim Amla is run out.  /AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

The start of the silly sequence: Hashim Amla is run out. /AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Despite the excellence of Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla, three moments of madness put India right back in the frame in Centurion.

The Proteas under coach Ottis Gibson might be building a reputation of being a bold and attacking team but they’re also one with a habit of making things unnecessarily difficult for themselves.

At Newlands they kept India in the game by not killing them off when they had the visitors 92/7 in their first innings.

However, that paled in comparison with the moments of madness that dogged South Africa on Saturday’s opening day of the second Test in Centurion.

At 16:38, the Proteas were realistically and serenely on their way to a score of 320/3 at the close.

30 minutes later, they ended the day on 269/6.

Hashim Amla had overcome a difficult start to his innings to reach 82.

The bearded star, on 14, gave a diving Hardik Pandya a chance at short midwicket off spinner Ravi Ashwin but the hotshot all-rounder only got a hand to it.

Later, on 30, he was dropped by keeper Parthiv Patel when he fluffed a leg-side flick.

It was the type of frustrating dismissals that have dogged the 34-year-old veteran over the past 18 months.

This time though, he survived and later on played some delightful strokes on the off-side.

On the back foot after fending off a Pandya short ball comfortably, Amla hesitated after captain Faf du Plessis (24*) called him for a single.

Pandya picked up, swivelled around and brilliantly hit the stumps with South Africa’s batting anchor out of his ground.

It was a needless run given how Amla and Du Plessis had picked off the Indian attack.

Quinton de Kock was out two balls later for a golden duck, bafflingly wafting at an Ashiwn delivery outside off without a hint of feet movement.

The Proteas keeper is an instinctive batter but that was poor technique from him.

And then came the craziest moment of them all.

After struggling to flick another shorter delivery from Pandya, Vernon Philander stupidly decided to “steal” a single as the ball lobbed up.

But he misjudged the pace of the incoming fielder and didn’t even bother to look at Du Plessis for the call of “no”.

Both ended up at the non-striker’s end with Philander somehow claiming to be badly mistreated given his body language.

It really was poor cricket from such an experienced duo.

Young Aiden Markram could rightly feel aggrieved about his platform being wasted so badly.

The 23-year-old opener confirmed his rich potential with a magnificent 94, showing off a wonderful ability to score heavily on both sides of the wicket.

In the process, he passed 500 Test runs in only his seventh innings.

Except for Amla, the rest of the order failed to build on starts.

Dean Elgar (31), who at times looked hapless outside off-stump, was out to a freakish catch at short cover when he couldn’t control a lofted drive off Ashwin.

AB de Villiers chopped on after a subdued 20.

Despite profiting from the Proteas’ recklessness, Ashwin in particular deserved his haul of 3/90 from 31 overs.

After being criticised previously for not performing outside India, the off-spinner has visibly matured.

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13 October 2018 TURFFONTEIN

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