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Dean, AB lead fightback

Faf du Plessis (right) congratulates Dean Elgar after the latter reached his half-century, on Thursday

Port Elizabeth: South Africa were left to rue the loss of soft dismissals as they ended Day I of the second Test at 214 for five, here, at the St. George’s Park, on Thursday.

Bad light brought a premature end to the day after 83 overs were bowled with AB de Villiers (51) and JP Duminy (2) at the crease. De Villiers passed 7,000 Test runs and became the first player in history to score half-centuries in 12 Tests on the trot.

It might well have been a better day for the hosts after they won the toss and elected to bat, but Dean Elgar (83) — replacing Alviro Petersen and debutant Quinton de Kock (7) gave their wickets away with rash shots.

The pitch did not have the devil of the Centurion and rendered Mitchell Johnson less effective, as the South Africans played him with relative comfort once the shine had been taken off the new ball.

It has been a bitter-sweet week for Elgar, who found out he would play in this Test match on the same day Cricket South Africa (CSA) decided not to renew his central contract.

“I got the bad news first, then they softened me up with the good news,” he said.

Captain Graeme Smith said at the toss that his side wanted to bat first and put Australia under pressure. But it was South Africa who felt the early heat. Smith was struck on the back leg by Ryan Harris with the total on 10 and the umpire had no hesitation in giving him out leg-before.

In the next over, Johnson breached the defence of Hashim Amla who was also trapped leg-before for a duck. But Elgar and Faf du Plessis (55) batted patiently for a third-wicket partnership of 112 before the latter gave a catch to Steve Smith at short leg, off the bowling of Nathan Lyon.

Thereafter, Elgar added a further 58 with De Villiers before he tried to smash Lyon to the boundary and instead, skied the ball to Ryan Harris at mid-off. The brashness of youth then got the better of De Kock, who perished to mid-off, gifting a wicket to Steven Smith.

Lyon (two for 47) was the pick of the Australian bowlers, while Johnson managed just one wicket as of now.