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Updated December 27th, 2023 at 20:15 IST

India vs South Africa: Dean Elgar outshines KL Rahul with brilliant century in farewell series

KL Rahul’s superlative century was neutralised by a brilliant counter-offensive ton from the soon-to-be retired Dean Elgar as South Africa looked on course for a first innings lead, reaching 194 for 3 at tea on the second day of the opening Test against India here Wednesday.

Dean Elgar scores a century
Dean Elgar scores a century | Image:Disney Hotstar/X.com
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KL Rahul’s superlative century was neutralised by a brilliant counter-offensive ton from the soon-to-be retired Dean Elgar as South Africa looked on course for a first innings lead, reaching 194 for 3 at tea on the second day of the opening Test against India here Wednesday.

It was Rahul’s 101 off just 137 balls which propelled India to a first innings score of 245 on a track that offered variable bounce.

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But the left-handed Elgar was way more attacking against a wayward Indian attack whose third and fourth pacers were rendered completely ineffective on a good bowling track.

Playing his penultimate Test match, Elgar nicely blended defence with a plethora of pulls and tucks off his legs as his 115 not out off 168 balls, took the Proteas to 51 runs within India’s first innings total.

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Jasprit Bumrah (2/35 in 11 overs) bowled a couple of wicket-taking deliveries to pull India briefly back into the contest.

Bumrah and his seasoned new-ball colleague Mohammed Siraj (1/39 in 10 overs) did test the home batters but unfortunately Shardul Thakur (0/47 in 10 overs) looked insipid and debutant Prasidh Krishna (0/51 in 10 overs) was very erratic, leaking way too many runs.

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Such was their profligacy that in South Africa’s first 100 runs, 18 were boundaries.

The Gujarat slinger ended the 93-run second wicket stand by bowling a perfect off-cutter to southpaw Tony de Zorzi (28 off 62 balls), which pitched on length and moved enough to take a thick outside edge into the hands of Yashasvi Jaiswal at third slip.

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Keegan Petersen (2), India’s nemesis during the previous tour, lasted only seven deliveries, as he lazily played away from his body and dragged a slightly back of the length delivery coming in with the angle onto his stumps.

However, the dismissals didn’t deter Elgar, who hit as many as 21 boundaries and was quick to cut and pull whenever anything short came his way.

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While Thakur drifted on Elgar’s pads, Prasidh, who had not so memorable half-century to his name, either bowled too full or too short.

Prasidh was imperiously pulled for a six by the South African debutant David Bedingham (32 batting) in an unbroken stand of 81.

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Bedingham also handed the same treatment to Thakur as Indian shoulders drooped with passage of time.

Rahul’s best Test knock 

In the morning, Rahul scored one of his most satisfying hundreds in extremely difficult batting conditions to take India to an above-par first innings score.

Starting the day unbeaten on 70, Rahul made a brilliant hundred and the innings could well be considered on par with some of the best knocks played by Indians in SENA countries if the degree of difficulty is taken into account.

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No Test batter from any other country has been able to score two Test hundreds at the Supersport Park and Rahul now holds that unique record.

His innings had 14 boundaries and four sixes as he most of the time decided to ride the bounce rather than get on top of it en route his eighth Test ton.

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As someone, who was dropped earlier this year during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in India on account of poor form, this was some comeback for Rahul where he was literally the lone ranger.

Consistency has been the problem for the Bengaluru man but class has never been an issue as his range is as good as a Virat Kohli or a Rohit Sharma.

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The ramp shot off Kagiso Rabada (5/59 in 20 overs) was pure class while a quick bye run stolen off Gerald Coetzee to prevent a genuine No. 11 Prasidh from facing more of the fast bowler was pragmatic.

Rahul got into the 90s with a smashing six as he picked Rabada’s length very early and dispatched him into square leg grass embankments.

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The hundred came when he slogged Coetzee into the ‘Cow Corner’ for his fourth and final maximum. 

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Published December 27th, 2023 at 20:15 IST

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