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Ken Borland

Markram stroking a comeback century the enduring image of a 1st day that ended with SA closing up shop 0

Posted on March 01, 2023 by Ken

Aiden Markram celebrated his return to Test cricket with an impressively-controlled century.

The Proteas may have lost wickets and closed up shop in the second half of the day, but the enduring image of the opening day of the first Test against the West Indies at Centurion will be Aiden Markram stroking the ball around SuperSport Park on his way to a comeback century.

It was just like the old days as Markram compiled a fabulous 115 off 174 balls in four-and-a-half hours at the crease, the opener’s first Test century since February 2021 leading South Africa to 314 for eight at stumps after they won what seems a good toss.

He and fellow opener Dean Elgar, stripped of the captaincy, needed some good fortune in the morning, but they both showed the determination and skill to fight through the new ball and they put on an impressive 141 for the first wicket.

It was out of character for Elgar to give his wicket away on 71 by ramping Alzarri Joseph to third man, where Jermaine Blackwood did well to hang on to the speeding ball above his head while tumbling backwards, but the left-hander had done the sort of defiant job at the start of the innings that he also did in the good old days. He was also more expansive than he often is, striking 11 fours and needing just 118 balls for his 71 runs.

Another left-hander, the debutant Tony de Zorzi, then joined Markram, and when South Africa went to tea on 206 for one, they seemed set to plunder runs in the final session against an attack that was looking increasingly flat.

But De Zorzi, looking for an unlikely third run, was run out for 28 and, from 221 for one, the Proteas lost their next seven wickets for just 79 runs.

Markram later said, however, that with the ball moving around all day, the home side will certainly take their position at the end of the day.

“We started really well after lunch, but as the pitch got quicker, it became clear that any ball could have your name on it,” Markram said. “The ball was still going sideways a couple of overs before the second new ball was due, so there was still quite a lot in the wicket even at the end of the day.”

Markram drove the ball magnificently through the covers, where most of his 18 fours came from, but also seemed to dial back his strokeplay a little, not going quite as hard as he can, his sixth Test century being an impressively controlled effort.

“I’ve been having nice chats to the coaches and the senior players, and with the slower bounce here on the first day, it can be difficult to drive,” Markram said. “In the past, I might have just gone hard anyway, but I understand now that, at some stages, you have to either earn the right to drive or the ball has to be extremely full.

“It’s not about being any less aggressive, but instead just trying to keep it as simple as possible. The attitude from the coaches is that each guy has his own strengths and if the ball is in your area then no worries, even if it doesn’t work out. But you have to marry that with the conditions and the bowling attack you’re up against,” the 28-year-old Markram said.

The West Indies picked up the big wicket of Proteas captain Temba Bavuma, trapped in front by Joseph for a two-ball duck in the same over as De Zorzi’s run out, and Joseph then speared a superb yorker into Markram’s stumps four overs later as the home side slipped to 236 for four.

Heinrich Klaasen was in counter-attack mode as he went to 20 off 22 balls, but he then miscued an attempted pull off Shannon Gabriel into the hands of Joseph, running from mid-on.

Senuran Muthusamy, surprisingly in the XI instead of Keshav Maharaj or another batsman, shouldered arms and was trapped in front by Kemar Roach for three, and Keegan Petersen dug in for an hour-and-a-half, but could only amass 14 runs in 50 balls before he walked across his stumps and was lbw to Kyle Mayers’ inswingers.

Marco Jansen (17*) and Gerald Coetzee, another debutant, who struck his first two balls for fours to reach 11 not out at stumps, will resume on the second morning.

Overnight, Markram will be able to savour a Test career resumed in the most impressive fashion. He said the confidence placed in him by new Test coach Shukri Conrad, who insisted he be recalled and open the batting, had helped inspire him on Tuesday.

“It might have been a good thing to be dropped, it meant I started today with a clean slate,” Markram said. “I was heartsore about not being in Australia, but the reasons I was given by the selectors were quite clear and I was happy with the explanation.

“As a batsman, you need runs on the board, and if you don’t have them then your position should be under scrutiny. It probably worked out nicely in the end. It’s been a strange journey, but I’m grateful it worked out today.

“There was a lot of relief when I reached my hundred, but it’s great when a coach backs you, what it does for a player is massive and I’ve always had a really good relationship and understanding with Shukri.

“His backing gave me extra confidence and you also want to do him justice. One of Shukri’s big strengths is that he’s always very clear where you stand and I’m grateful for his backing and another chance,” Markram said, having taken the opportunity with both hands.

‘All about finding a way’ – Markram 0

Posted on January 23, 2023 by Ken

Aiden Markram said it was “all about finding a way” on a spicy Perth Stadium pitch as he and David Miller scored top-class half-centuries to take South Africa to victory by five wickets with two balls to spare in a thrilling T20 World Cup clash with India on Sunday.

India had chosen to bat first and struggled to 133/9 against a bombardment from a ferocious Proteas attack led by Lungi Ngidi (4-0-29-4) and Wayne Parnell (4-1-15-3). But India then swung the ball superbly up front to reduce South Africa to 24/3. Markram and Miller then battled to 40/3 after 10 overs, at which point they had to make a brave push for victory. They had to shift the momentum and then ran with it.

Markram attacked first, his 52 off 41 balls, swinging hard for six fours and a six, serving to loosen the grip of the Indian attack. Miller then completed the task with typical class and composure, scoring 59 not out off 46 balls.

“Conditions were incredibly tricky for batting, we expected the extra bounce, but the ball was also nipping around quite a bit,” Markram said. “In T20, you have to take risks and play a positive brand of cricket.

“But the ball gets big on you from just short of a good length and makes you look silly at times. I felt far from being in form, but it was about finding a way.

“It’s tough when there’s that extra bounce, but you need to make a play, you’ve got to take the short ball on or you won’t be scoring quickly enough. After 10 overs, we had to pick someone to target, who we felt most comfortable against in the conditions.

“We discussed it at the drinks break and we knew that if it comes off then it would give us a chance,” Markram said.

While batting was something of a daunting adventure on a pitch with so much pace and bounce, Markram also praised the bowlers for not getting carried away when conditions were so much in their favour.

“It was important for us to set the tone up front and Wayne Parnell has been doing that for us in a lot of games. He’s got the experience and the calmness because he knows his skillsets with the ball.

“In conditions like this, Lungi is also a massive weapon for us and he executed extremely well to get the early breakthroughs for us.

“It was important to hit the right hard lengths to extract that extra bounce. Both bowling attacks bowled very well and made it difficult to score.

“You can get carried away in terms of your lengths and then start giving freebies, but neither attack did that. They made life very difficult for the batsmen,” Markram said.

SA top-order dying slow deaths before Markram & Miller switch gears 0

Posted on January 20, 2023 by Ken

South Africa’s top-order were dying slow deaths as they went in pursuit of a mediocre target of 134, before Aiden Markram and David Miller switched gears in the second half of the innings to carry the Proteas to a thrilling five-wicket victory with two balls to spare in their T20 World Cup match against India at the Perth Stadium on Sunday.

After a superb bowling display led by Lungi Ngidi and Wayne Parnell had restricted India to just 133/9, South Africa’s top-order was blown away by brilliant swing bowling up front. Whereas the Proteas had used pace and bounce to unsettle the batsmen, India showed tremendous skill up front with the new ball.

Outstanding young left-arm paceman Arshdeep Singh swung the ball away from Quinton de Kock (1), to have him well-caught by Lokesh Rahul at second slip, and two balls later he swung the ball into another left-hander, Rilee Rossouw, to trap him lbw for a duck.

Temba Bavuma’s lack of form meant he was unable to get a bat on many of the magnificent deliveries bowled to him by Arshdeep and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and then attempted an ambitious scoop shot against Mohammed Shami and was neatly caught behind by Dinesh Karthik for 10.

South Africa were teetering on 24/3 and Markram and Miller almost looked like condemned men as they tried to weather the storm. They did well to stay in, but after 10 overs the score was just 40/3, meaning another 94 needed to be scored off the last 60 balls.

Markram decided to go for broke and, in a brave innings of 52 off 41 balls, he swung hard and shifted the momentum of the game, beating back the Indian bowlers. He should have been caught twice and Rohit Sharma also missed an easy run out chance, as he and Miller added 76 for the fourth wicket in 10 overs.

Miller was then left with the last 34 runs to score off 26 balls, and he once again showed his sheer class and skill at the death, steering the Proteas home with 59 not out off 46 balls.

India had chosen to bat first, and on a pitch offering steep bounce and plenty of pace, Ngidi set the cats amongst the pigeons as he reduced them to 49/5 in eight-and-a-half overs. The tall paceman used the bounce superbly, taking 4/29 in his four overs, and all four wickets came off shortish deliveries. But his line, just outside off stump with the occasional straighter delivery, was also outstanding.

Ngidi struck with just his second ball as Rohit (15) spliced a pull shot and the bowler took a return catch; Ngidi then ended his first over with the wicket of the other opener, Rahul (9) trying to steer the ball to third man but being caught at slip as the delivery got too big for him. Markram was practically standing on the fielding circle when he took the catch.

Virat Kohli counterpunched in scoring 12, but Ngidi then dismissed him, top-edging a hook to fine leg, where Kagiso Rabada took a good catch running around the boundary.

Rabada then took an absolute screamer, sprinting in from the fine leg boundary and diving forward to catch Hardik Pandya (2) off Ngidi.

With Anrich Nortje blasting out Deepak Hooda for a duck, India were crashing, but Suryakumar Yadav pulled the blue aeroplane out of its dive with a great innings, his 68 off 40 balls piloting them to a total that kept them in the match because of the strength of their own pace attack.

Left-arm seamer Parnell had done a fine job for the Proteas up front with the new ball, and he soared in the closing stages, taking 3/15 in his four overs, which included a maiden in the first over of the match.

Nortje (4-0-23-1) and Rabada (4-0-26-0) maintained the relentless pace pressure.

Markram admits Proteas missed out on extra 15-20 runs 0

Posted on December 23, 2022 by Ken

As well as he batted, Aiden Markram has admitted that the Proteas missed out on an extra 15-20 runs they should have scored as they went down to India by seven wickets in the second ODI at the weekend, and executing their skills in the crucial moments will be their focus going into the decisive third match in Delhi on Tuesday.

Markram scored 79 off 89 balls, an innings filled with plenty of great strokes, but he was just beginning to really dominate after a tough start when he got out, lashing a short delivery from off-spinner Washington Sundar to extra cover. What made his dismissal even worse was that it came just two balls after Heinrich Klaasen got out for a brisk 30 off 26 deliveries.

Markram had set up the innings superbly with Reeza Hendricks (74 off 76) in a run-a-ball third-wicket stand of 129, and he and Klaasen then added 46 off 40 balls to leave the Proteas poised for a score of over 300 as they reached 215 for three in the 38th over.

They subsided to 278 for seven, which India chased down with 25 balls to spare and Markram put his hand up for what happened.

“The pitch was drier than in Lucknow and we thought we had a decent score, even if it was 15-20 runs less than ideal,” Markram said.

“It would have been nice to bat through the last 10 overs and cash in, that’s where the runs left out there are on me. Whenever two wickets fall bang-bang, then the fielding team gets all the momentum back.

“When I got out, maybe that’s where we left the 15-20 runs short. I haven’t played in Delhi before, but lots of the team have, so we’ll have knowledge of the conditions. We will just try and execute our skills on the day, ultimately that’s what matters,” Markram said.

India’s successful chase was also built around a third-wicket stand, although Ishan Kishan (93 off 84) and Shreyas Iyer (113* off 111) took theirs to 161. Although he has been out-of-form lately, South Africa possibly missed the ability of wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi to take wickets in the middle overs. Both he and captain Temba Bavuma missed the second ODI due to illness.

“They were very good, they played excellent knocks and deserve a lot of credit for such a big partnership that killed the game,” Markram said.

“The ball was quite wet, we definitely saw the impact of the dew. I don’t think we bowled badly, they hit some good balls for boundaries and then it becomes tough to slow them down.”

Markram said he was greatly helped by having Hendricks in such good form at the other end, and hopefully the prolific 33-year-old keeps his place for Tuesday’s decider.

“Batting first, the ball did not skid on so much and India bowled into the pitch and the ball just died. David Miller struggling to hit the ball shows you how tough conditions were and how well India bowled.

“I found it tough, it was frustrating. But lots of credit must go to Reeza, he kept the runs flowing at the other end and so the partnership was still doing well,” Markram said.

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