Half-centuries by Aiden Markram and Tony de Zorzi handed the Proteas the edge after opening day of the second Betway Test against West Indies at DP World Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
The hosts reached stumps on 311 for seven thanks in the main to opener Markram, the Player of the Match in the series opener when he scored a century and 47, thanks to his scintillating 96 (139 balls, 17 fours).
De Zorzi, an international debutant in the series, also impressed with 85 off 155 balls (11 fours) as he banked a maiden Test 50.
However, after dominating the opening two sessions, the home side lost most of that impetus when the tourists claimed five wickets in the final two hours to remain well in the game after the first day.
There was nonetheless, plenty of positives for South Africa to be encouraged by, especially after their struggles with the bat over the past year.
This time around they again won the toss at the start, with captain Temba Bavuma electing to bat first under sunny skies on the Highveld. Dean Elgar and Markram both scored quickly early on as the Proteas went to 50 in 11 overs. The partnership reached 76, before the former was excellently caught by Roston Chase diving forward at short fine leg off pick-of-the-bowlers Gudakesh Motie (3/75) for 42 off 54 balls.
That brought together De Zorzi and Markram, who together the biggest partnership of the innings as the South Africans took control of the game. The two put on 116 together for the second wicket, taking their side to 192 when Markram tried to sweep and instead miscued to Jermaine Blackwood running to the leg side from slip, falling four short of a century.
The Proteas continued to look comfortable after tea when Bavuma (28) settled in nicely, only to be trapped leg before wicket by Jason Holder (1/39) ending a third wicket stand of 56. De Zorzi followed not too long after when he was bowled by Motie, with the recalled Ryan Rickelton next to go after reaching 22.
Kyle Mayers (2/24) added the late wickets of Wiaan Mulder (12) and Simon Harmer (1) to cap a strong comeback for the islanders as they took back some of the initiative that had been seized by South Africa.
image: Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar touch gloves on Day 1 of the 2nd Test Match between South Africa and the West Indies in Johannesburg at the Wanderers, March 8, 2023 (photo Marcel Sigg)
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), Keegan Petersen (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Kagiso Rabada (DP World Lions), Ryan Rickelton (DP World Lions).
South Africa Betway Test Series against West Indies
28 February – 04 March
South Africa beat West Indies by 87 runs – SuperSport Park, Centurion
08 – 12 March
South Africa vs West Indies – DP World Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg