What a day for Keshav Maharaj and Wiaan Mulder at St George’s Park on Saturday as they were at the forefront of South Africa posting 453 and then reducing Bangladesh to 139/5 on the second day of the second Test.
The pair first of all shone with the bat and came within nine runs of breaking a record set way, way back in 1895/96. Mulder and Maharaj added 81 for the seventh wicket and there is surely no older record in South African cricket than the St George’s Park seventh-wicket partnership record of 89 between Arthur Hill and Sammy Woods for England.
The dismissal of Kyle Verreynne in the seventh over of the day, bowled by Khaled Ahmed for 22, brought Mulder and Maharaj together at 300/6 and Maharaj led the way as he gave the Bangladesh bowlers what-for in a punishing innings of 84 off just 95 balls, with nine fours and three sixes.
Mulder, who has struggled with the bat lately, took his time to get in and only opened his account after 22 deliveries. But he grew in confidence and it took a tremendous delivery from left-arm spinner Taijul Islam, drifting the ball into the right-hander and then turning it sharply away to hit off-stump, to dismiss him and end the marvellous stand with Maharaj.
Taijul also dimisssed Maharaj, who made his career-best score and his fourth half-century in Tests, as the batsman stepped down the wicket and tried to heave the spinner over the leg-side; the aggression was what made Maharaj successful on Saturday, so he was justified in continuing with the positive approach.
Sensible batting is what Simon Harmer (29) and Lizaad Williams (13) then brought to the crease, South Africa going past 450 as the last five wickets added 182 runs.
Taijul was the best of the Bangladesh bowlers with an impressive 6/135 in 50 overs; changes of pace is what made him tricky to play, especially since the pitch was taking turn.
Despite Duanne Olivier getting late movement with the new ball and having Mahmudul Hasan Joy caught at slip in the first over of the innings for a duck, you would have thought the pitch was a road as Tamim Iqbal (47) and Nazmul Hossain Shanto (33) then set about the bowling.
They added 79 in just 20 overs and it took the introduction of seamer Mulder to break the partnership.
Mulder, who ended the day with brilliant figures of 3/15 in six overs, showed just how useful his medium-pace can be on this sort of pitch, bowling wicket-to-wicket and getting considerable movement into the left-handers.
Both Tamim and Shanto were trapped plumb lbw by Mulder as they stepped across their stumps and tried to work the ball across the line.
Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque’s miserable series continued when Mulder had him lbw as well, in similar fashion, for just 6.
Olivier, who justified his selection with some pleasing bowling, then returned to bowl Liton Das (11), jagging the ball back through the gate.
Mushfiqur Rahim is well set on 30 not out and Yasir Ali has 8.