It was the case of the magically transforming pitch once again. South Africa declared on 573 for four and to all appearances, except when viewed through the eyes of the Bangladesh batsmen, on what seemed like the same pitch Bangladesh were reduced to 55 for five by tea. Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad were all back in the hut through a mixture of bad technique, bad temperament, both, and some well directed short bowling from South Africa.
South Africa had resumed the afternoon session on 530 for three with Hashim Amla on 132 and Faf du Plessis on 120. In the last ball of the first over of resumption Amla, seemingly bored with the utter lack of challenge from the opposition, walked across his stumps to Subhasish Roy and was bowled around his legs without adding to his lunchtime score. It just set the stage for Quinton de Kock to come in and sweep and reverse-sweep left-arm spinner Taijul Islam to distraction in his 27-ball 28, thus allowing Du Plessis to declare the innings closed after the half hour since lunch produced 43 runs from seven overs.
Soumya and Imrul Kayes walked out 10 minutes later and were greeted by Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier trying to take their heads off. Soumya cut two crisply timed boundaries but lost his leg stump for nine when the left-hander tried to glance an away-swinging Rabada delivery to fine leg. Mominul came in and was strangled down the leg side a lifter from Olivier. The batsman displayed poor technique and reflexes as he failed to get his gloves away from the ball in time.
Walking in at 26 for two, skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, who seems a far cry from the batsman who makes the opposition earn his wicket, hit his second ball off the back foot just wide of the well-populated slip region for four. He continued to follow rising deliveries outside off stump, and though the catch taken by Temba Bavuma at gully in the 12th over bowled by Olivier was outstandingly brilliant, Mushfiqur was always a candidate to be caught behind the wicket.
The person walking in at 36 for three no longer inspires confidence. Mahmudullah Riyad hit a four through cover in Wayne Parnell’s first over, the 15th of the innings. The very next ball, to a completely innocuous delivery outside off stump Mahmudullah hung his bat out, edged to the keeper and walked off for all the runs the previous shot had fetched him, leaving Bangladesh on 49 for four.
It could easily have been worse, but Liton Das -- sent in ahead of the wildcard known as Sabbir Rahman – edged a Parnell delivery that was wide of off and was lucky as Elgar was unable to reach it above his head at slip.
Earlier, the same old story kept unfolding on Bangladesh’s tour of South Africa -- the visitors toiled fruitlessly while the hosts filled their boots. Hashim Amla broke his tie with Graeme Smith and completed his 28th Test hundred while skipper Faf du Plessis brought up his seventh ton in the rain-delayed morning session, which ended with South Africa reaching lunch on the second day of the second Test on 530 for three. Amla was batting on 132 and Du Plessis on 120 when the signal for lunch gave the Tigers some respite.
From Bangladesh’s perspective, they had spent another wicketless session and conceded 104 runs, which after sessions of 126 for none, 130 for one and 172 for two the previous day may seem like an improvement in the run rate stakes until you remember that it was a rain-reduced 90-minute session during which 22 overs were bowled. Early morning rain had delayed the start of play by 90 minutes and South Africa started as they left off on the second morning, which they resumed on 428 for three with Amla batting on 89 and Du Plessis on 62.
Amla soon reached his hundred off his 113th delivery with a checked bunt through the vacant backward point region off Mustafizur Rahman in the 97th over. With this hundred he moved past Smith on 27 hundreds and is behind only Jacques Kallis’s 45 in South Africa’s all-time stakes. Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim had tried all four of his specialist bowlers by the time the fourth-wicket partnership had crossed 200, and that was soon followed by Du Plessis’s seventh ton when, in the 107th over, he flicked Mustafizur for four off his 147th ball.
Bangladesh were as listless as ever. Mustafizur, again the only bowler to retain a semblance of control, managed to get some bounce, as did Subhasish Roy, but the batsmen were too well settled to be bothered. They were helped in that regard by defensive fields (deep backward point, deep square leg) from the start, when a string of dot balls was wasted by a dab through square. Mushfiqur seems to be waiting for the declaration, after which Kagiso Rabada will probably enjoy the bounce on offer.