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The Report by Firdose Moonda in Johannesburg
February 6, 2014
South Africa 300 (Philander 58*, Hendricks 3-52) & 243 (du Plessis 102*, Hendricks 2-16) drew with South African Composite XI 135 (de Kock 50, Peterson 3-9) & 66 for 7 (van Zyl 21*, Morkel 3-6)
A century from Faf du Plessis and six wickets snaffled by Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel gave South Africa what the coach Russell Domingo said was "more" than what he expected from this fixture. South Africa did not bother with bowling the Composite side out, agreeing to shake hands on a draw shortly before the scheduled tea break on day three.
It left Domingo with what he called a "pretty clear" idea of his XI for the first Test against Australia, which starts on February 12, although he will only make his mind once he assesses conditions in Centurion. What seems certain is that du Plessis will bat at No.4. He again demonstrated patience and solid temperament in a four-hour stint at the crease, which saw him score the only century of the match.
The only other candidate for that position was AB de Villiers, who batted for the first time since hand surgery in today's play. De Villiers spent an hour-and-a-half at the crease to compile his 40 runs, also starting slowly before kicking off. He also kept wicket later on and declared himself "very close to 100%," and comfortable staying at No. 5. "That's what best for the team and for me, for now," de Villiers said.
Left-armer Beuran Hendricks was the only successful bowler from the Composite side, as he bowled Vernon Philander for 11.
The South African side declared while Dale Steyn was at the crease, which meant neither Morkel nor Rory Kleinveldt had to bat again in this fixture. Instead, they were given a final run with ball in hand and Morkel, in particular, upped the ante.
Although it was expected Steyn would be the pacer to bowl at full throttle, as he did against an Australian XI in Sydney in November 2012 in a warm-up game, it was Morkel who turned on the gas. Steyn's four overs went by without much incident, apart from the aggression he showed against Dean Elgar. Vernon Philander, in his usual fashion of bowling outside off stump, took the first three wickets as Reeza Hendricks, Quinton de Kock and Elgar were dismissed for single figures.
Then Morkel steamed in, bowling quickly and generating steep bounce to remove Temba Bavuma, Rilee Rossouw and Dominic Hendricks. All three were caught behind. Stiaan van Zyl was the only composite batsmen to have some measure of the conditions. He scored 21 in an vigil of 89 minutes, while Wayne Parnell managed a pacy 20.
JP Duminy did not take the field on the final day due to tendonitis in his wrist but the batsman's fitness will be assessed over the next few days.
"Everybody had a good workout, Faf scored 100, the bowlers bowled well and I'm happy with the overall picture," Domingo said.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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