By the end of the third day of the second and final Test against the West Indies at The Wanderers on Friday, South Africa reached 287 for seven, a commanding lead of 356 in their second innings. Their new captain Temba Bavuma scored an unbeaten 171.
In his 56th game, middle-order hitter Bavuma has recorded his second century in a Test. His first century came against England in 2016 at Newlands, and it came after two ducks in the first Test against the West Indies team, which he had admired growing up.
Bavuma has been unable to reach three figures despite passing 50 in 19 innings since his first hundred and twice reaching the 90s, including an unbeaten 95 against Australia at the same venue in 2018.
On the fourth morning, he will resume bowling alongside Keshav Maharaj (3 not out), as South Africa looks to extend their lead with two days left in the Test.
“I tried to set up a gameplan and stay in the moment,” Bavuma told reporters. “For a little bit I froze (after reaching 100), it is no secret, it has been long coming.
“I tried to play the ball later and use singles to rotate the strike. When the bad ball came I tried to put it away. You have to find ways to put pressure on the bowlers, they won’t give you anything. I’m not done yet, I would like to keep going.
“But it’s special, there is a lot of sentiment to it. West Indies is a team I followed from my younger days, they had so many heroes of mine like Brian Lara.”
After openers Dean Elgar (5) and Tony de Zorzi (1) were early casualties for West Indies seamer Kyle Mayers (2-25) on the third morning, Bavuma arrived at the wicket with his team in some danger at 8-2.
Aiden Markram (18), Ryan Rickelton (10), and Heinrich Klaasen (14) all fell, turning it into 103-5 and exposing South Africa’s issues with their weak middle order.
Nevertheless, all-rounder Wiaan Mulder (42) and Bavuma put up 103 runs for the sixth wicket before Mulder was caught at deep fine leg by Tagenarine Chanderpaul off the bowling of Alzarri Joseph. 71 runs were scored for the seventh wicket in a strong partnership with Simon Harmer (19).
Bavuma appeared to be in total control of his innings as he caressed 20 fours to reach his career-best score and inch closer to a double-ton. “We still have a lot to do out there,” Bavuma said. “As much as we have 350 (lead), I would like us to get a little bit more. The pitch has not broken up as much as I would have liked. The job is not done at all.”
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