TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
AN elbow in the ribs was the best SA could do to try and stop Bangladesh from retaining the advantage after two days of the first test in Chittagong on Wednesday.
But, like everything else the visitors tried, it didn’t work. At stumps, which was forced by rain, Bangladesh were 179/4 – or 69 runs behind.
“If they get a 100-run lead we will be struggling,” SA bowling coach Charl Langeveldt said candidly.
The elbow in question belonged to a stirred, not shaken Quinton de Kock. The ribs were those of serial hothead Tamim Iqbal.
De Kock made his move on the stroke of lunch after he and Tamim had locked horns verbally when the Bangladeshi pulled away from the crease with Simon Harmer almost in his delivery stride.
Tamim duly blocked out the over and the curt conversation continued and culminated in a none too brotherly bump of the shoulders. Which was when De Kock pointed his elbow into Tamim’s ribs, as if to say, “Get away.”
A huddle of players and umpires quickly formed around the duelling bantams. All ended well enough with Hashim Amla physically shielding De Kock from falling victim to or committing further acts of silliness. Dale Steyn did a similar job with Tamim.
If that sounds familiar it’s because Rilee Rossouw was docked half his match fee after admitting to making what the code of conduct calls “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact” in a shoulder charge on Tamim during the second one-day international on July 12.
Rossouw got off relatively lightly because match referee David Boon agreed with his explanation that his behaviour had been, in Boon’s words, “inappropriate but not deliberate”.
Whatever the appropriateness of Wednesday’s confrontation, it was as deliberate as a pointed elbow shoved into the ribs.
The argy-bargy stood out like a brightly coloured umbrella on a day’s play that was as gloomy as the skies overhead. Rain put paid to proceedings 10 overs after tea.
“It was a really tough day,” Langeveldt said. “Bangladesh really batted well. They were patient. I think our guys bowled really well and Bangladesh batted well.”
Runs trickled at 2.65 to the over and four wickets fell. Tamim and Mahmudullah scored 57 and 67, and shared 89 for the third wicket.
There were wickets for Vernon Philander – who speared a delivery into Mahmudullah’s pads in what became the day’s last over – and Harmer – who skidded a straight delivery onto Mominul Haque’s off-stump after setting him up with a sharp turner.
But there was no success for Steyn and Morne Morkel, who huffed and puffed expectantly but not overtly aggressively in a nod to the futility of pitching short on this beach of a pitch.
However, Dean Elgar’s burglary career took a significant leap forward when he bowled a sweeping Tamim with a full toss.
Nevermind that. Stiaan van Zyl’s second ball of occasional medium pace was veering past Imrul Kayes’ backside when the left-hander lost his balance in flicking at it. Kayes quickly scrambled back to safety, but he was not fast enough to deny De Kock – standing up to the stumps – a moment of brilliance.
“It was one of those days,” Langeveldt said. “It could go your way or you could be bowling gun and get no rewards. And then Stiaan comes and gets a leg-side stumping …”
Easy as licking your elbow, De Kock might have said.