THE Castle Lager Proteas came within eight runs of adding the biggest Test match runs chase to their ODI world record before settling for a draw in the first Sunfoil Test match against India at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.
Set to make 458 runs for victory they finished on 452/7 on the back of brilliant centuries by Faf du Plessis (134 off 309 balls, 15 fours) and AB de Villiers (103 off 168 balls, 12 fours). It was Du Plessis’ third Test century and De Villiers’ 18th. Together they shared a partnership of 205 for the fifth wicket in 62.3 overs.
The South African total was the seventh highest fourth innings score in the history of Test cricket and South Africa’s highest ever, improving on the 423/7 they made against England at The Oval in 1947.
A draw was probably a fair result as neither side deserved to lose.
In retrospect it was probably the two run outs of Graeme Smith and Du Plessis that cost the Proteas their chance of winning. On the other hand, had Smith not been run out and batted through to the close on the fourth evening, then Du Plessis would not have got the chance to bat at No.4.
For Du Plessis it was a carbon copy of his match-saving innings at Adelaide last year. On that occasion he batted for seven hours and 46 minutes including the entire final day and this time he batted for six hours 35 minutes.
The Proteas scored 98/2 in the first session, 95/0 in the second and 119/4 in the final session.
India bowled pretty well in spite of only taking two wickets in the first two sessions and it was a testimony to the calibre of the Proteas batting that they were kept at bay.
Virat Kohli was named Man of the Match for his century in the first innings that set up India’s crucial lead and 96 in the second.