Amla makes a double, Bavuma, Du Plessis and Morris bat SA to safety
It can be safely concluded now that the Cape Town Test between South Africa and England was organised for one purpose and one purpose alone – to make all the 22 players feel good about their batting. That eight of those twenty-two are yet to bat, is sheer bad luck.
The beauty of the ground and the surroundings were used by the batsmen as objects of recreation as they looked at them and refreshed themselves in between deliveries, not to mention that those deliveries were, at most left alone, and at the very least, dispatched from their presence.
Resuming at 353/3, the arduous task of negating the run deficit was achieved nonchalantly by the home side, as Amla, who started the day on 157, 43 short of his 4th double hundred achieved it eventually, and with it, dismissed any thoughts of his sheen fading away.
If Amla was classy, his teammates were no less determined, as Faf Du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, and Chris Morris made sure that the English bowlers lost their zip and control slowly through the day.
In the process, both Bavuma and Morris played very well, with Bavuma etching his name in the history books, as he became the first black African to score a century for South Africa. Having played 7 tests before this, the impression that everyone had of Bavuma was that he would soon be dropped, as he had only managed one fifty in his short test career.
However, playing to help his team continue their fight in the match, in front of his home crowd, surely brought the best out of the young Bavuma, as he played an innings to remember, his refreshing batting energising the entire crowd and revitalising a match that was threatening to fizzle out.
The bowlers’ plight wasn’t helped at all by the continuous disappointments in the field, in a day that saw their dropped catches for the innings go up to a tally of 10. As desperate the bowlers were for wickets, the batsmen were to cash in on a belter of a pitch.
Some respite finally came for the Englishmen as Stuart Broad finally got one through Amla’s unbreachable defences, to dismiss him for 201, his third best Test score, which was shortly followed by Du Plessis edging a wayward James Anderson delivery to Ben Stokes at slip, ending his innings on 86.
Once again, like day 3, England felt like having an opening, but the hole was shunned with utmost indifference by Chris Morris and Temba Bavuma who combined for the third century stand of the innings thereby comfortably batting England out of the game.
After the South Africa No. 3 and No. 4 had put up 171 for the 4th wicket, Bavuma and Morris nearly equalled it with a 167-run stand for the 7th wicket. Morris got a fifty on debut, thereby becoming the fourth SA batsman to do so since their readmission to Tests in 1992, but the final moment of the day belonged to Bavuma.
Flat pitches or not, you still need to have the correct temperament and patient to face a bowling attack comprising the likes of Broad and Anderson, and Bavuma showed exactly why he deserved to be in the side with his maiden hundred in Tests, a moment that made the entire Newlands stand up on its feet and applaud, including Bavuma’s father.
The 'Moeen-Hashim' chants doing rounds for the first three days were replaced by 'Temba Temba... Bavuma' chants as the little man raised his bat to acknowledge the applause.
While the hopes of this being a dead draw loomed large by the end of day 4, and perhaps still do, Amla surprised everyone by declaring the innings at 627/7, just 2 runs behind England’s total of 629/6 in the first innings, thereby giving his bowlers a shot at some dead-tired English batsmen for a few closing moments of the day.
England, however, survived the tricky period, remembering what happened at Abu Dhabi last year and at Adelaide in 2006, and finished on 16/0 at stumps.
Brief Scores: England (toss) 629/6 & 15/0 (Cook 8, Hales 5) lead South Africa 627/7 dec. (Amla 201, Bavuma 102, Broad 2/94) by 17 runs at stumps on day 4.