South Africa opener Aiden Markram, who scored 94, said they didn’t expect so much assistance from the pitch for Ravichandran Ashwin on the first day of the second Test in Centurion on Saturday.
Ashwin took 3/90, accounting for Markram, Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock.
“We didn’t expect there to be so much assistance for him. He was difficult to face, he is difficult to face on a flat wicket as well, so it did work out well for him I suppose. He still had to bowl well so you need to give him some credit. It will be interesting to see if the pitch will get harder and if it will continue to spin like it did, or if it spun like that because of the grass covering. We’ll see in the next couple of days,” said Markram, who said it was disappointing to miss out on a Test hundred for the second time in his short career.
“Obviously I’m bitterly disappointed. I’m just going to keep saying it’s part of the game and try to be positive. Next time I get into those situations I’ll take lessons from what I’ve learnt today and hopefully get through to three figures,” he said.
Compared to Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, India was a much sterner opposition and Markram said it was stressful to bat against them. “I was quite nervous. It helps to have Dean Elgar and Hashim at the other end. They are very calming characters and it rubs off on me. Naturally the longer you spend the more comfortable you get and more familiar with conditions. My message to myself was to take it nice and deep and spend as much time as I could at the wicket,” he said.
Markram admitted three quick wickets in the last hour had brought India back to the game and they were on an even keel going into the second day. “The game is pretty much even right now. I thought we showed good fight, winning the toss and batting first, especially after how last week played out. It is nice to get the start we did get and for Hash and AB to prolong the partnership. We would have liked not to have lost those clump of wickets at the end,” he said.
“It is a part of the game and we just got to nice and positive as a side and fight for every run tomorrow morning. In terms of bowling we have got taller bowlers and also being used to the conditions and it would be interesting to see how the Indians bat and make an assessment,” he said, adding they are aiming to score around 350 in the first innings.
“Anything above 350 would be good. We would like to push to 400. We’ve still got plenty of batting. Kesh (Keshav Maharaj) is still in and KG (Kagiso Rabada) showed his worth in the previous Test as well, along with the leadership of Faf (du Plessis),” said Markram.