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SA vs IND, Centurion: First there was KL Rahul, Now there stays Dean Elgar

Dean Elgar & KL Rahul scored centuries

From the outside world, staying around 16000 kilometer away, it felt like both KL Rahul and Dean Elgar was carrying their hand-made track at the SuperSport Park in Centurion. Just when others were jumping, sitting, looking in surprise at deliveries, finding it tough to bat, both Elgar and Rahul showed the template- bat in a natural way.

It’s quite a way to say goodbye and play your penultimate Test match as Steve Waugh did or Alastair Cook did in 2018- scoring a farewell century in Oval in 2018, or like Jacques Kallis did in 2014, or like David Warner is doing at the moment against Pakistan, or there is Dean Elgar jumping with his maiden home ground Test century. And he finds India, the most generous side in giving farewells.

But before that, there was KL Rahul, and there were hopes and anticipations of taking India to a safe position- if not comfortable situation, from their early struggles.

KL Rahul reaches his century vs SA
©-Mufaddal Vohra/ Twitter
KL Rahul displayed his specialty in special situation:

Rahul could have come a bit early, had Marco Jansen grabbed Shreyas Iyer early at the point region, or had Tony de Zorzi jumped forward to grab Virat Kohli. Both failed and Rahul stayed under the shades. But finally, he came just after the lunch interval.

And he was up against a fired up Kagiso Rabada. The second ball raised on his left shoulder, and he left it alone. If one goes back to the third ODI between the same side a few days ago, Rahul was bit edgy in playing a pull shot, and the moment he thought twice, the ball hit his pad and ballooned to the wicket-keeper.

This time he didn’t think even once, and pulled Rabada to the deep backward square leg for his first boundary. Five balls later from the other end, he saw a peach of a delivery drew his partner Virat Kohli forward to attract an edge.

Ravichandran Ashwin played some fantastic shots in between before taking the road of the dressing room. Rahul still kept himself in the attacking mood. The balls were behaving and going besides his shoulder in awkward nature, but every time he was playing  the ball and looking away, as if nothing happened. Quite cool!

When Jansen went short to his body, he again didn’t think much and went for a flashing cut short for couple of more boundaries. Meanwhile, Shardul Thakur, involved in a good-looking partnership got a few blows on his helmet. Rahul saw it, and kind of ignored it right fully.

As soon as Bumrah walked into the middle, Rahul took his ultra-aggressive mode. And he kept on hitting anything that was short, full or width on offer or away from his body. Some balls were missing his blade, and some were smelling the boundary cushion. With bad light, umpires took both sides off, but Rahul wasn’t in the mood to leave.

KL showed his VVS style of play in engagement with the tailenders:

If there is any batter in India cricket, who knows how to bat with the tailenders, then it’s VVS Laxman. He traditionally used to play his shots in the first four balls and used to look for singles on offer in the fifth or last delivery. The opposition captain without any hesitation used to bring the field up, only to give Laxman the freedom to charge.

Rahul used the same rhythm. The credit for Mohammad Siraj was to stay there and follow what Rahul was saying to him. With a cracking pull shot against Rabada, Rahul took himself to the 90s. He was so charged up, that when SA keeper Kyle Verreynne comfortably took a ball in the leg side, Rahul went for the single, even before the keeper could think of having a go at the stumps.

That was it. The pull shot for six against Coetzee carried Rahul to his eighth century in whites, seventh outside India. It’s tough how a player of his caliber is averaging in the mid-thirties, but this knock of Rahul was one of the best India has ever produced in last 50 years as the greatest Sunil Gavaskar called in the commentary box.

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Then came Dean Elgar, or was it someone else?

Was it really Dean Elgar? Or was it someone else batting in his helmet, looked in the same way. There is a different kind of nature batters find themselves when they announced their retirement in a series. There is no pressure of scoring runs, no thought process of the next series, or practice session, there is only the calmness of enjoying the moment.

Just his fourth ball, and he went for a drive and got a boundary in the vacant place through the legs of the short leg fielder. A lovely straight drive saw Kohli applauding from the slips. Elgar cracked lanky Prasidh Krishna through square for two more boundaries, all through the grass, and that was his fifth boundary in a hour period before lunch.

Well perhaps, he will settle on the crease after the break, but no..!

Elgar reaches his century vs IND
©-The Cricketer/ Twitter

There came Elgar again, smashed Shardul Thakur wide of the cover for another four, and kept on riding on the bowler’s lengths to get those boundaries, as if the opponents just made 500 on the surface. Batting was that easy.

The man who has a career strike rate of just over 50, and it’s a career of 85 odd Test matches for South Africa, was answering at 70 strike rate. In just an blink of an eye, Elgar was standing on 97. The story could have been different had Shubman Gill jumped forward to grab his just before the Tea break. But he didn’t.

Elgar pulled and the ball raced away to the deep mid-wicket. He clenched his fists and jumped in roar. Three balls later, he nailed Thakur again for a boundary. India came up with their short ball plan after Tea, but by then Elgar was watching the ball in a different shape. Lights were dimming down, and just like everyone does, Elgar was looking at the sky and the umpires in a parallel vision.

The short ball from Krishna hit him on the elbow and he looked in serious pain, but he didn’t need to stay and face them again. Both umpires called stumps with bad light. Elgar left the round with applause from all around, and perhaps there was request from the dressing room of staying there in whites for another series. The 2023 year ends, but about 2024?

But was that really Dean Elgar? Or was it someone else in look-a-like version!

That Mad Writer
Author: That Mad Writer

Someone who loves how Steve Smith from being Australia's future Shane Warne has become present Don Bradman, gets inspired by Anderson's longevity, gets awed with Kohli's drive and Southee's bowling action. Never gets excited with stats and records, and believes in instincts, and always questions spinners bowling with the new ball.

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