JP Duminy and Hashim Amla made light work of a game Sri Lankan attack as they serenely proceeded to 193/2 at tea at the third test at the Wanderers. They combined for an unbeaten, third wicket 148-run stand as conditions noticeably became easier to bat.
After a difficult first session‚ SA pressed home their domination with 121 coming off just 30 overs.
With sparkling cover drives and excellent judgment outside off-stump‚ Duminy sped to his ninth test 50 off just 62 balls, with 10 fours, as he fed on a diet of full deliveries outside his off-stump.
Amla looked as if he was in the process of finding some form when he compiled his 32nd test 50 off 109 balls with seven fours.
While Duminy’s area of strength has also been his weakness for the best part of his career‚ there is no better looking batsman in world cricket when he’s timing the ball sweetly outside off-stump.
The lack of a quality off-spinner on a green surface would have stymied Duminy‚ who has a clear weakness against the ball that turns away from him. However‚ there was none of the movement that troubled him at Newlands, even though Sri Lanka’s paceman were working up a good head of steam without the accuracy of the first session.
His punchy innings was a necessity after Faf du Plessis won the toss and chose to bat under cloudy skies and a green pitch. Having bowled well in the first session‚ SA grabbed the initiative through Duminy and is well placed for a decent first day total.
Even though Stephen Cook and Dean Elgar provided a sound enough start with a watchful 45-run opening stand‚ their falling in quick succession could have created tremors‚ especially with an out-of-form Amla playing in his 100th test.
Cook’s agonising 41-ball 10 was snuffed out by Angelo Mathews‚ who trapped him in front in the 15th over while Elgar (27) needlessly wafted at a wide delivery‚ giving Dimuth Karunaratne at first slip some catching practice.
That’s where the fun and games ended for the Sri Lankans‚ even though they were generous enough to gift Amla a life on five when Dhananjaya de Silva shelled a regulation chance at gully off the unlucky Suranga Lakmal in the over just before lunch.
Amla continued to find a way to play himself back into form, even though the creases that have appeared in his game over the past year continued to manifest. He was continually being beaten outside off-stump but, like the class player he is‚ he also found ways to score despite some unusually attacking fields from the normally defensive Mathews.
However‚ a trending theme in Amla’s career has been to prosper from shaky starts and then given a life. Sometimes‚ that’s all a batsman such as Amla needs to find some form.