South Africa’s quicks thrive under lights, Zimbabwe 30-4
PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AP) South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel had Zimbabwe in serious trouble on the first day of their four-day, day-night test on Tuesday, taking 3-20 as the tourists struggled to 30-4 under lights.
South Africa declared on 309-9 after opting to bat first, and forced the Zimbabwe top order to face just over an hour of nighttime fast bowling with a lively pink ball.
Morkel removed Hamilton Masakadza lbw on the first delivery of the Zimbabwe innings, and had Chamu Chibhabha (6) and Brendan Taylor (0) out to catches behind the wicket as the ball swung prodigiously and zipped around off the seam.
Fellow quick Vernon Philander added the wicket of Craig Ervine for 4 and Zimbabwe was 14-4 before sending in nightwatchman Kyle Jarvis to help debutant Ryan Burl (15 not out) see out the day.
Zimbabwe went to stumps in the one-off test at St. George’s Park 279 runs behind South Africa with six wickets in hand.
Nine wickets fell in a helter-skelter final session, with South Africa’s batsmen also finding it tough going after the sun went down in the first day-night test in South Africa. It’s also the first time cricket has experimented with a shortened, four-day test match.
The South Africans lost their last five wickets for 37 runs at the start of the final session but opener Aiden Markram’s 125, and 53 from stand-in captain AB de Villiers, had already set the Proteas up for a decent score. They put on 96 for the third wicket. Temba Bavuma made 44 and was part of a 78-run stand with Markram for the fourth wicket.
Markram made his second century in his third test – he also made 97 on debut in September – and is averaging 95 at the start of his career. His introduction to test cricket has been against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, though.
South Africa was in control against test cricket’s strugglers in Port Elizabeth despite a disordered start to its home season that complicated the return to action of De Villiers after a two-year break from tests. He made his 53 off 65 balls, but also had to unexpectedly handle captain and wicketkeeping duties on his first day of test cricket since January 2016.
Regular skipper Faf du Plessis was ruled out on the morning of the game with a virus, forcing former test captain De Villiers to take charge again temporarily. Also, wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock injured a hamstring while batting, leaving de Villiers to take over as the `keeper. Fast bowler Dale Steyn’s return to tests for the first time in over a year was delayed after he was also withdrawn from the team because of illness.