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Du Plessis leads South African charge against Zimbabwe

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South Africa fought a war of attrition for the first innings advantage on the second day of their one-off Test match against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday.

At the close of play the Proteas had scored 201/4 in their first innings to trail Zimbabwe by 55 runs. Only 209 runs were scored on the day on a pitch that was getting slower by the day and on a surface that was providing increasing purchase to the spin bowlers.

In the Proteas’ favour is the fact that there is still plenty of time left in the match and they can afford to bat for another full day provided they keep wickets intact.

Faf du Plessis (69 not out off 192 balls, 8 fours) and Quinton de Kock (27 not out off 48 balls, 3 fours) are the men currently at the crease. Du Plessis at one stage went almost three hours without hitting a boundary but he has shown time and again the ability to bat with enduring patience and he has a key role to play.

The Proteas needed 3.5 overs to remove the last Zimbabwe batsman with Dale Steyn claiming his 24th five-wicket haul to make him joint ninth on the all-time list for this particular statistic and were then given a sound start with Dean Elgar and Alviro Petersen putting on 57 for the first wicket and Elgar and Du Plessis a further 75 for the second before Elgar was dismissed for 61 (146 balls, 7 fours).

The advantage swung back Zimbabwe’s way when Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers were both dismissed cheaply before Du Plessis and De Kock provided a consolidating fifth-wicket partnership.

John Nyumbu had an impressive debut for Zimbabwe, taking two for 71 in 24 overs while wicketkeeper Richmond Mutumbami took two spectacular catches to dismiss the two Proteas’ opening batsmen.

The match is poised slightly in the Proteas’ favour but there is a lot of hard work still to be done if they are to take a significant lead which would be important in the context of this match.