Proteas rampant‚ but Faf's cruel 199 caps day of missed opportunities

team mate clap as Faf du Plessis of the Proteas enters the dressing room during day 3 of the 1st Betway Test (WTC) match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at SuperSport Park on December 28, 2020 in Pretoria, South Africa.
team mate clap as Faf du Plessis of the Proteas enters the dressing room during day 3 of the 1st Betway Test (WTC) match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at SuperSport Park on December 28, 2020 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Cricket doesn’t come crueler than this.

Former South African captain Faf du Plessis was left stranded on 199 after he fluffed his lines to be caught at mid-on one run shy of what could have been significant double ton milestone of his Test career.

It was a disappointing end to an innings of grit that left his team-mates at a near empty SuperSport Park bewildered during the final session on day three of this Boxing Day Test where 369 runs were scored on Monday.

Du Plessis will have another chance to attempt his maiden double ton but this was a missed opportunity against a stricken Sri Lanka side that was depleted because of injuries to key players.

Du Plessis was not the only South African in the first innings who squandered a chance as opener Dean Elgar fell on 95 on Sunday and Temba Bavuma should not have walked as his bat did not connect with the ball while on 71.

When Du Plessis was caught by Dimuth Karunaratne at mid-on from the bowling of Wanindu Hasaranga‚ South Africa’s inning did not suffer as they were in complete control of the match.

Soon after Du Plessis departed‚ SA were finally bowled out for 621 but with a first innings lead of 225 and Sri Lanka were on 65/2 and a deficit of 160 at the close of play on Monday.

South Africa’s advantage was as a result of partnerships like 141 between Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram‚ 179 between Du Plessis and Temba Bavuma‚ 77 between Du Plessis and Wiaan Mulder and 133 between Du Plessis and Keshav Maharaj.

Besides Du Plessis (199) and Elgar (95)‚ other notable contributors to the scoreboard were Maharaj with 73‚ Bavuma with 71 and Aiden Markram with 68 as they replied to Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 396/9. The South Africans took full advantage of Sri Lanka’s mounting injury woes that affected key players Lahiru Kumara‚ Hasaranga‚ Dhananjaya de Silva and Kasun Rajitha.

Before Du Plessis‚ Elgar‚ Maharaj and Bavuma asserted themselves with the bat‚ the job was done by young fast bowlers Lutho Sipamla and Wiaan Mulder who claimed four and three wickets respectively.

They were supported by Anrich Nortje and Ngidi who returned with one wicket each‚ while spinner Maharaj ended his spell empty-handed but made up for that with a solid score of 73.

Ngidi started second innings with the early wickets of Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis to leave the visitors‚ who will continue batting with Kusal Perera (33) and Dinesh Chandimal (21) on Tuesday‚ with their backs firmly against the wall.

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