New captain Temba Bavuma struck an unbeaten 171 as South Africa reached 287 for seven at the close of the third day of the second and final test against West Indies at The Wanderers on Friday, a commanding lead of 356 in their second innings.
It is a second test century for middle-order batter Bavuma in his 56th match. His maiden ton came against England at Newlands in 2016, and this one followed a pair of ducks in the first test against a West Indies team he idolised growing up.
Bavuma passed 50 in 19 innings since that first hundred, and twice got into the 90s, including an unbeaten 95 against Australia at the same venue in 2018, but frustratingly had been unable to convert to three figures.
He will resume with Keshav Maharaj (3 not out) on the fourth morning as South Africa look to grow their lead with two days left in the test.
“I tried to set up a gameplan and stay in the moment,” Bavuma told reporters. “For a little bit I froze (after reaching 100), it is no secret, it has been long coming.
“I tried to play the ball later and use singles to rotate the strike. When the bad ball came I tried to put it away. You have to find ways to put pressure on the bowlers, they won’t give you anything. I’m not done yet, I would like to keep going.
“But it’s special, there is a lot of sentiment to it. West Indies is a team I followed from my younger days, they had so many heroes of mine like Brian Lara.”
Bavuma came to the wicket with his side in some trouble at 8-2 after opener Dean Elgar (5) and Tony de Zorzi (1) were early scalps for West Indies seamer Kyle Mayers (2-25) on the third morning.
That became 103-5 when Aiden Markram (18), Ryan Rickelton (10) and Heinrich Klaasen (14) all fell and South Africa’s problems with their brittle middle order were laid bare.
But Bavuma put on 103 for the sixth wicket with all-rounder Wiaan Mulder (42), before the latter was caught at deep fine leg by Tagenarine Chanderpaul off the bowling of Alzarri Joseph.
There was another good partnership of 71 for the seventh wicket with Simon Harmer (19).
Bavuma looked in complete control of his innings, caressing 20 fours as he moved to his career-best score and will now have his eye on a double-ton.
“We still have a lot to do out there,” Bavuma said. “As much as we have 350 (lead), I would like us to get a little bit more. The pitch has not broken up as much as I would have liked. The job is not done at all.”
South Africa won the first test in Pretoria by 87 runs.