Aiden Markram captained the South Africa-A side on its tour to India this year and scored a stroke-filled knock of 161 during the second, unofficial Test in Mysore.
Just before the ongoing Test series against India began, he smacked another ton in the practice game in Vizianagaram against a Board President’s XI. Markram reached three figures off just 118 deliveries and retired hurt to give the rest of the batting some practice.
In the same game, Rohit Sharma was auditioning for the opening spot for India in the Test arena and was dismissed for a duck off two deliveries.
How the roles have reversed.
Markram is highly rated in South Africa and has shown promise in his fledgling career, with an average of 40.05 after 19 games. However, his record in Asia is extremely poor as he has scored a mere 94 runs in his eight innings, at an average of 11.75. His score of 39 in Visakhapatnam in the second innings of the first Test against India is his highest in the subcontinent.
The 25-year-old could have possibly avoided a pair in the second Test in Pune had he opted to review in the second innings after he was adjudged LBW in the opening over.
He was dismissed in the first innings in identical fashion, missing an inswinger from Umesh Yadav and that could have influenced the opening pair’s decision to not review in the second innings, when Ishant Sharma struck Markram’s pads with a similar delivery. Replays suggested that the ball would have missed the stumps.
Nevertheless, Markram became only the third South African opener to bag a duck in each innings after Herschelle Gibbs and Gary Kirsten. Gibbs has suffered the ignominy twice, both occasions coming against the West Indies.
South Africa’s opening pair of Markram and Dean Elgar have managed only one 50-run first wicket partnership in 2019 and their last 11 opening partnerships in Tests make for horrific reading: 4, 6, 24, 0, 36, 15, 10, 14, 4, 2, 0.
The 25-year-old, who was the captain of the U-19 South African team when they won the World Cup in 2014, is certainly talented. Among Test openers, only Dimuth Karunaratne has scored more runs (1,546) than Markram (1,402) since the South African made his debut.
However, most of those runs have come at home and in order to fulfill his promise, Markram needs to prove his mettle on tours as well. Ranchi presents one more chance for the opener to redeem himself when South Africa take on India in the third and final Test of the series.
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