Elgar, Duminy put South Africa on top vs. Australia

Elgar, Duminy put South Africa on top vs. Australia
South Africa’s Jean-Paul Duminy plays a shot on the third day of the first test against Australia in Perth, Saturday, Nov. 5. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Perth, Australia (AP) — Dean Elgar and Jean-Paul Duminy hit centuries on Saturday to put South Africa in control of the first test against Australia.

South Africa were 390-6 in their second innings at stumps on the third day at the WACA Ground with Quinton de Kock and Vernon Philander unbeaten on 16 and 23 respectively. South Africa lead by 388 runs.

Australia picked up a cluster of late wickets after a 250-run third wicket stand between Elgar (127) and Duminy (141).

South Africa were well placed to take a stranglehold of the test on 295-3 at tea, but stumbled soon after and lost Elgar, skipper Faf du Plessis (32) and Temba Bavuma (8).

When Australia bat again — against an attack which is missing injured spearhead Dale Steyn — they will be on a pitch that has cracks widening and producing unplayable bounce. But Australian captain Steve Smith appeared undaunted by what will be a huge run chase.

“Anything is going to be chased,” Smith said. “The balls that have misbehaved have been wide.

“It’s still a pretty good wicket. It’s about batting some good time. Once you get yourself in, it’s a great place to bat. We need big partnerships.”

The day belonged to Elgar and Duminy who shared the highest third-wicket stand against Australia since South Africa returned to international cricket following years of isolation due to apartheid. Eddie Barlow and Graeme Pollock in Adelaide had a 341-run partnership in the 1963-64 series.

The tourists looked like going through the opening two sessions of the day without losing a wicket but Duminy was caught behind off swing bowler Peter Siddle with the last ball before the tea.

Duminy was given not out by the on-field umpire, but Australia successfully reviewed the decision to end the partnership between the left-handed pair.

South Africa trailed by two runs on the first innings – 242 vs 244 – and were in difficulty at 45-2 when Elgar and Duminy started their partnership.

Duminy, the dominant partner in the stand, was the first to reach his ton, smashing 17 boundaries in the process. Resuming after lunch, he punished swing bowler Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood for five boundaries in the space of 10 balls.

It was Duminy’s first hundred in 19 innings since his century against Sri Lanka in Galle in July 2014. It was his fifth century in a 37-test career.

Duminy’s innings was studded with his trademark cover drives which resulted in the majority of his boundaries. He batted for 6 1/2 hours and faced 225 balls.

Duminy has scored three of his five centuries against Australia.

“You know that you have to bring your ‘A’ game every time you play them,” Duminy said. “There is no period in the game you get to rest … I was making sure I was focused every ball. That’s what Dean and myself spoke about a lot – focusing on the next ball, that was the key to our partnership.”

Elgar, who made a pair in his first test appearance against Australia at the WACA, made up for that with an innings that lasted 473 minutes. Elgar’s fifth test century ended with a tired shot as he spooned a catch to Starc at gully off Hazlewood (2-97). Elgar hit a six and 17 fours off 316 balls.

Prior to the Duminy dismissal, the only time Australia came close to a breakthrough was when Elgar skied a shot on 81, but Starc badly misjudged his catching attempt.