TELFORD VICE, Perth
CENTURIES by Dean Elgar and JP Duminy put South Africa in command of the first test against Australia at the WACA on Saturday.
At stumps on the third day the visitors were 390/6, a lead of 388, with Quinton de Kock on 16 and Vernon Philander 23 not out.
But South Africa know big scores can be chased down at this ground – they made 414/4 here to win in December 2008.
And they will be careful to pad the target as insurance for the absence of Dale Steyn, who was ruled out of the series on Friday with a broken shoulder.
Elgar scored 127 and Duminy made 141, and together they added 250 for South Africa’s third wicket in a stand that endured from more than an hour before stumps on Friday until what became the last ball before tea on Saturday.
Neither Elgar nor Duminy seemed troubled by an Australian attack that struggled to bowl with penetration even after they took the new ball midway through the second session.
Duminy leapt towards his hundred by hitting five fours through the off side from the first 10 balls he faced after lunch.
He reached his fifth century – and his third against Australia – with a drive through the covers off Mitchell Marsh for two in the eighth over of the second session.
Duminy’s effort broke a streak of 16 completed innings without a century that started in July 2014.
He was caught behind driving expansively at a wide delivery from Peter Siddle having been at the crease for five-and-a-half hours, faced 316 balls and hit 20 fours and a six.
The less fluent Elgar faced 281 deliveries – more than in any of his other 40 test innings – and also scored his fifth century.
Elgar was 81 not out when he skied a drive off off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
Mitchell Starc, running back from mid-on, lost his balance and his bearings as he turned to take the catch and the ball fell to earth.
Two deliveries later Elgar repeated the stroke and this time smashed a six.
Lyon was on the receiving end again in the seventh over before tea, when Elgar drove him through the covers for four to reach his century.
Twelve overs after tea Elgar slashed a delivery from Josh Hazlewood to gully and was caught by Starc.
Elgar’s innings will give him a better memory of the WACA than he on his debut there in November 2012, when he bagged a pair.
Temperatures climb to 37 degrees Celsius in Perth on Saturday, which only added to the effort of bowling.
South Africa made sure Australia got that message at the drinks breaks.
Along with cooling refreshment, the visitors’ support staff also brought two plastic chairs and an umbrella onto the field.
The Australians looked on bemused as the batsmen sat in a pool of shade for a few minutes in each session.