Tigers toil hard in Bloemfontein
South Africa reached 256 for the loss of just one wicket as the players went to Tea on the first day of the second Test between Bangladesh and South Africa at Bloemfontein.
Subashish Roy got the breakthrough for Bangladesh when Dean Elgar was holed out at deep-square leg by Mustafizur Rahman for 113. The opening duo put on a 243-run opening run stand as Aiden Markram remained not out on 135 at Tea.
The Tigers toiled hard throughout the day as the opening pair made light of the bowlers with some dazzling strokeplay.
If Mushfiqur Rahim fielded first even after thinking that the Potchefstroom wicket was dry and a good batting wicket, it was no wonder that he took the same decision that on a wicket that he said on the eve of the match would be more like a typical South African one. However, the result after the first session was actually worse than in Potchefstroom as South Africa reached 126 without loss at lunch, 27 more than they had managed in the first Test.
Dean Elgar's unbeaten 88-ball 72 is one of the higher strike-rates of the Test specialist's career, and that points more to the incompetence of Bangladesh's bowlers than any special pyrotechnics from Elgar. Rookie opener Aiden Markram was unbeaten on a more sedate 54 off 86 balls.
South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis was once more pleasantly surprised at having his way even after losing the toss. He said 'nine times out of 10 you will bat first. It's a normal wicket'.
Bangladesh made four changes to the line-up that played in Potchefstroom, with fit-again opener Soumya Sarkar coming back in place of the injured Tamim Iqbal and Taijul Islam, Subhasish Roy and Rubel Hossain coming in for Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Shafiul Islam and Taskin Ahmed.
The match started curiously, much like a T20 match would. Not in terms of scoring, although a score of 23 after four overs was not too far behind T20 standards. But after two overs apiece from Mustafizur Rahman and Subhasish Roy, Mushfiqur rested both opening bowlers almost as if their overs had to be saved for the death. More inexplicably, the bowler replacing Subhasish was Soumya, who can bowl seam up but is in no way a bowler skilled enough to take the nearly new ball in a Test match. Soumya was then replaced again with Mustafizur after just one over.
To his credit, Mushfiqur kept the field up longer than he usually does even in the face of regular boundaries. However, around the 10-over mark, square leg was pushed back.
Apart from Mustafizur, whose six overs yielded just 13 runs with eight coming off two balls that Elgar whipped off his pads, none of the three other specialist bowlers displayed the slightest awareness of how to bowl on the first morning of a Test match. Subhaish's seven overs went for 35, an improvement after his first two went for 15 as he kept over-pitching on a pitch that provided some bounce and good, even pace. Rubel's eight went for 38. Even Taijul Islam, who has a reputation for being very accurate, served up full tosses as his seven overs went for 36.
Elgar and Markram, who put on 196 for the first wicket in Potchefstroom, were only too happy to lap up the generosity on offer. Elgar, who has a strike rate of 46.15, reached his 50 with a boundary off Subhasish off his 59th delivery. Markram rushed to his second Test fifty off 89 deliveries with two glorious on-driven boundaries off Taujul in the 28th over.