Aiden Markram enjoyed a successful return to the Proteas team by scoring his sixth century on the opening day of the first Betway Test against the West Indies at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old struck 115 off 174 balls (18 fours) to help the hosts post 314 for eight after winning the toss and batting on the Highveld.
Markram shared in an opening partnership of 141 with Dean Elgar (71 off 118 balls, 11 fours) – South Africa’s highest opening stand in more than two years. The last time the opening pair recorded as many together was when the exact players scored 141 against Sri Lanka at the same venue in the Boxing Day Test of 2020.
However, the visitors then clawed their way back to take the honours from the second part of a day that had marked the start of a new era for the Proteas. Temba Bavuma captained the red-ball team for the first time with head coach Shukri Conrad also in the dugout for the first time.
There were debuts for the country’s in-form domestic batter Tony de Zorzi as well as fast bowler Gerald Coetzee, while Senuran Muthusamy played his first game on home soil after two previous Tests in India. The fit-again Keegan Petersen was also back for the first time since featuring against England last September.
Bavuma would have been pleased with the start to his tenure as he watched Markram and Elgar put together a big opening stand that started with them taking their side to lunch on 99 for none. The partnership eventually ended when a false shot by the latter saw him dismissed by Alzarri Joseph (3/60) not long after the break.
De Zorzi, a man averaging over 100 in the domestic game this season, was next in and looked largely comfortable as he helped Markram get South Africa to 221 before needlessly being run out searching for a third run after reaching 28. The pair put on 80 together, but the breakthrough gave the West Indians an opening and they fully capitalised thereafter when seven wickets fell for 69.
Bavuma’s maiden innings as captain lasted two balls as he fell for nought, trapped leg before wicket by Josephs, who also took out Markram – a man who scored his first hundred in more than two years with his last coming in Rawalpindi against Pakistan.
Wickets continued to tumble from there with Heinrich Klaasen (20), Senuran Muthusamy (3), Petersen (14) and Kagiso Rabada (8) all failing. In the end, Marco Jansen (17*) and Coetzee (11*) were left to carry the South Africans to the close.
Proteas Test squad against West Indies
Temba Bavuma (captain, DP World Lions), Gerald Coetzee (ITEC Knights), Tony de Zorzi (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Dean Elgar (Momentum Multiply Titans), Simon Harmer (Momentum Multiply Titans), Marco Jansen (Dafabet Warriors), Heinrich Klaasen (Momentum Multiply Titans), Keshav Maharaj (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Aiden Markram (Momentum Multiply Titans), Wiaan Mulder (DP World Lions), Senuran Muthusamy (North West Dragons), Anrich Nortje (Dafabet Warriors), Keegan Petersen (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Kagiso Rabada (DP World Lions), Ryan Rickelton (DP World Lions).
image provided by Christian Kotze C and C Photo Agency