Dean Elgar was more upset than Aiden Markram after the young opener failed to reach a century on Test debut. Markram was run out for 97 at the non-striker's end, while attempting to steal a single to help Elgar, who was on 99, get to his hundred. Elgar called for the run and then sent Markram back, by which time the batsman was already too far down the track to make his ground.
While Markram walked back to applause from his team-mates, Elgar sunk to his knees in disappointment and later apologised to his new opening partner.
"I have never really looked at the game from a selfish perspective. I think I wanted it (the hundred) so badly for him I caught myself in no man's land," a bashful Markram later said. "Dean and I have come a long way and developed a good relationship. It was tough for him and a bitter pill to swallow. But I told him at tea that he really needs to kick on and that's all that matters."
Elgar was 128 not out overnight and ended the day as the leading run-scorer in Test cricket in 2017. Though he will be in a race with India's Cheteshwar Pujara for that spot, Elgar has already gained much stature among his team-mates, who see him as a leader in their line-up.
"He has a very hard personality. He is a proper fighter. It reflects in his cricket. He puts his hand up when times are tough. He doesn't score runs [only] when it's easy, he scores when it's rough," Markram said. "He is a leader in the side and we're incredibly happy for him now that he's the leading run-scorer in the year."
Markam's awe may extend beyond the others. Being new to the international scene, Markram need look no further than Elgar if he wants to understand how to succeed on this stage and it seems he is already taking tips.
"I have massive respect for him. It's never easy to bat out a full day," Markram said. "That's your goal as an opening batsman. Very rarely do I set myself a goal of how many runs I'm going to get, it's more of a time goal. Generally the longer you bat, the easier it gets. You've got to take your hat off to the innings Dean played."
While Elgar will hold the headlines for now, Markram knows it is not long before he is expected to do the same. He has been touted not just as a long-term opener but also as a future captain and he admitted it is a challenge trying to keep it real, so to speak, but he is doing his best.
"It's something you've got to get used to dealing with. It's not always a nice pressure to try and deal with because you don't want to let anyone down. I genuinely just try to block it out because at the end of the day it's a needless pressure that you are going to have on your shoulders," he said. "You think back to yourself that it's also just a game. There was a stage when I was batting out there that I sort of realised, it's not the be-all and end-all. If you do get a good ball, it's part of the game."