Bloemfontein: Eight days after being run out for 97 in his first Test innings, Aiden Markram eased into the 90s again - then reached a maiden Test century with two successive boundaries. Markram's 145 helped propel South Africa to a massive 428 for three on the first day of the second and final Test against Bangladesh at Mangaung Oval on Friday.
Opening partner Dean Elgar hit 113 before Hashim Amla and captain Faf du Plessis, unbeaten on 89 and 62 respectively, joined in the run feast. Markram, who turned 23 on Wednesday, admitted there was "a bit of extra focus in the 90s". If there were any nerves, Bangladesh fast bowler Rubel Hussain helped settle them. An over-pitched delivery was punched square on the off-side for four to take him to 97 and he didn't have time to dwell on the previous week's mishap because he hooked the next ball for another boundary.
"Fortunately I hit the gaps and the outfield was nice and quick," he said. "It hasn't hit home yet but I am very happy to have got there, especially after what happened last week." In what was almost an action replay of the first day of the first Test, Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim won the toss and sent South Africa in, only for his bowlers to be put to the sword. The only major difference was that Bangladesh reshuffled their bowling attack, retaining only Mustafizur Rahman of their front-line bowlers.
Markram said, though, that he was less surprised by being asked to bat than in the first Test. "There was a bit more in the wicket and although the scoring rate doesn't show it, they were at us quite a bit."
Rahim defended his decision. "It was a very good wicket to bowl on early but our bowlers didn't capitalise," he said. "When they pitched the ball up they were driven down the ground and when they went back (of a length) they were too short. After that they tried hard and bowled well in patches."
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