JOHANNESBURG: Aiden Markram helped South Africa race to a strong start before the West Indies fought back on the first day of the second Test in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie picked up three wickets as South Africa closed on 311 for seven, having slipped from their formidable teatime position of 247 for two.
Aiden Markram (96) and Tony de Zorzi (85) were mainly responsible for South Africa’s healthy position before the hosts struggled after the second interval.
“It’s not just the four runs (for the century),” Markram said. “On that pitch I should have been looking at a really big score, 160 or 170.”
Markram, who made 115 in South Africa’s 87-run win in the first Test in Centurion, was in imperious form, hitting 17 fours off 139 balls.
He described his dismissal, trying to play an uncharacteristic scoop shot against Motie, as “a brain fade”.
Markram and De Zorzi, playing in his second Test, put on 116 off 164 balls.
De Zorzi was later bowled by Motie during a South African post-tea collapse in which five wickets fell for 62 runs.
“He’s got a good head on his shoulders,” Markram said of his inexperienced teammate. “You need guys at number three who can apply themselves.”
The left-handed De Zorzi, 25, said he had tried to play as normally as possible rather than thinking about the leap from first-class to Test cricket.
“You have to do what got you here,” he said.
Jason Holder bowled a tight spell after tea and claimed the wicket of South African captain Temba Bavuma, who played no shot and was leg before wicket for 28 to a ball which cut back sharply.
De Zorzi batted fluently to be on 75 off 124 deliveries at tea but could add only another 10 runs off 31 balls before he was bowled by Motie.
He was drawn forward and beaten by a flighted delivery which spun back and hit the top of his off stump.
Motie finished the day with three for 75.
Ryan Rickelton was caught behind for 22 off Alzarri Joseph and Kyle Mayers claimed two wickets with the second new ball late in the day, bowling Wiaan Mulder and having Simon Harmer caught behind.
“The pitch quickened up later in the day and we created more chances,” said Mayers.
“It’s an open game. The late strikes brought us back into the game.”
Motie earlier had Dean Elgar caught at short fine leg for 42 off a ball which was outside the left-hander’s leg stump before removing Markram.
The ball looped off his bat and Jermaine Blackwood ran around from slip to leg slip to hold the catch.
Elgar and Markram put on 76 for the first wicket after Bavuma won the toss and chose to bat on an unusually docile Wanderers pitch.
At a venue with a tradition for pace and bounce, a dry surface gave some assistance to the spin bowlers on the first day, seemingly justifying South Africa’s decision to choose two spinners.