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Onus on Bavuma, with consistent failures for remaining SA top-order batters in the 1st innings

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Last updated on 11 Jan 2022 | 09:32 PM
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Onus on Bavuma, with consistent failures for remaining SA top-order batters in the 1st innings

In Tests since 2017, only once in five matches prior to this has a batting team taken a lead at Newlands

In back-to-back Tests, India’s batting has let them down in the first innings. In the Wanderers Test, India compiled 202 runs and, in this Test, they were bundled out for 223. Even the return of their primary skipper Virat Kohli, didn’t help the cause. Players like Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant got starts but didn't carry on. Kohli at one end, was so sublime that his 79-run knock looked like a century. This innings indeed was the best by the captain and by a far margin in his century-less 26 innings break since 2020.

Once again, the onus is on the bowlers to bring back India into the game. They have got the headstart as they have removed the gritty old Dean Elgar cheaply. Moreover, the opening partnership of South Africa in this series hasn’t been up to the mark. In fact, since 2021, in 14 innings, only twice has their opening partnership survived more than 10 overs. But, the good part is that Elgar is dismissed. To their glory, apart from Temba Bavuma, none of the others pose a threat, at least in the first innings.

Rassie van der Dussen came good in the last Test in the second innings. Aiden Markram survived the tricky passage of eight overs. However, his numbers in this series haven’t been great. Not only Markram, apart from Bavuma, none of the South African batsmen have a virtuous record in the first innings in this series, including Elgar.   

In this series, Bavuma has scored 103 runs in two innings and has a fifty in both the innings. Hence, averages 51.5. Keegan Petersen scored a valiant 62 in the second Test in the first innings and he averages 38.5 in two innings. The rest of the top order batsmen of South Africa (this Test) have averaged less than 25. Marco Jansen with an average of 21 in two innings has bettered Markram (14), Elgar (10.7) and Dussen (2).

Forging partnerships, a big issue

Partnerships are the back-bone of posting big totals. This is a department that South Africa have lacked in the first innings in Tests since 2020. In this series itself, South Africa have had only three 50+ partnerships. Apart from the three 50+ partnerships, South Africa’s highest partnership in the first innings is 29. Evident enough to say that the series has gone to the decider on the backs of their bowlers.

In Tests since 2020, South Africa’s top six partnerships have posted only 15 stands of over 50, 11 fifty-run stands and four century partnerships. Among the top nine teams, this is the lowest for a team in the first innings.

Can Markram step up once again after Elgar’s early exit?

South Africa have been largely dependent on Elgar in recent times. In Tests since 2019, in the first innings, Elgar has been dismissed for a single digit score in eight innings. South Africa in those eight innings have scored 244 runs on an average. Only once has they scored over 300 runs and that was against West Indies in 2021 in Gros Islet.

Markram’s numbers in these eight innings has been a bright spot. Markram has been Elgar’s opening partner in seven out of the eight innings and has scored three 50+ scores. He averages 36.3 when Elgar has been dismissed in single digits since 2019.

Nevertheless, In Tests since 2017, only one batting team has managed to take a lead in the second innings at Newlands in five Tests prior to this. South Africa in 2019 against Pakistan scored 431 in the second innings and took 254 runs lead. However, India will be clinging on the fact that, apart from that 431, the highest second innings total in the remaining four matches has been 255.    

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