The Proteas posted an impressive 453 in their first innings, seemingly settling the all-rounder debate by saying ‘our lower-order can get the runs’, as Keshav Maharaj led the way with a sparkling 84 on the second day of the second Test against Bangladesh at St George’s Park on Saturday.
Maharaj’s career-best effort, his fourth Test half-century, came off just 95 balls and included nine fours and three sixes, a pugnacious effort that rammed home the Proteas’ advantage after they had begun the second day on 278/5.
Maharaj came to the crease at 300/6 as Kyle Verreynne (22) was bowled by Khaled Ahmed in the seventh over of the day.
The man at the centre of the all-rounder debate, Wiaan Mulder, scored a morale-boosting 33 and shared the crucial stand of 80 for the seventh wicket with Maharaj that left the Bangladesh bowlers toiling.
Mulder and Maharaj were on the brink of breaking the seventh-wicket partnership record for St George’s Park: there is surely no older record in South African cricket as Arthur Hill and Sammy Woods put on 89 for England way, way back in 1895/96.
But Mulder was then bowled by a superb delivery from left-arm spinner Taijul Islam, drifting in and then turning sharply away to hit off-stump.
Maharaj hung around for nearly another hour though, showing a fine eye and some great strokes as he punished the bowling.
There was also a very useful contribution from Simon Harmer (29), and Lizaad Williams hung around for an hour, scoring 13. South Africa’s last five wickets added 182 runs.
Taijul’s crafty spin and his tricky changes of pace caused the most problems for the South African batsmen as he took 6/135 in 50 overs. Paceman Khaled Ahmed had bowled well on the first day as he finished with 3/100 in 29 overs.
Although the Proteas’ deep batting line-up made the pitch look easy on Saturday, Bangladesh’s top-order will have to bat well as there is certainly still assistance from the pitch.