South African skipper Dean Elgar addressed the performance of a below-strength team after they completed a crushing 332-run win in the Port Elizabeth Test to seal the series 2-0, on the fourth day of the second Test match against Bangladesh at St George’s Park on Monday.
After surviving a few close shaves in the first over of day 4 against Harmer, Mushfiqur Rahim tried to play an ambitious inside-out drive and edged it to Dean Elgar.
Bangladesh’s batters continued to take chances, with Mominul Haque soon falling to a top-edged sweep while facing Maharaj, as the visitors slid to 38 runs for 5 wickets. In the next over bowled by Harmer, Yasir Ali too gifted his wicket away when he decided to also crack the slog-sweep but found the fielder at deep midwicket.
Liton Das then played a few eye-catching drives alongside the loft while playing spin with the duo. But he tried one shot too many and was stumped off the bowling of Maharaj. The left-arm spinner picked up his sixth wicket with his best ball of the day when he extracted turn to force Mehidy Hasan to edge one to the 'keeper, who in turn pouched a sharp catch. On the same score, Maharaj and Harmer took a wicket each to wrap up the proceedings.
The visitors lasted for only 19 overs in the second innings of the Durban Test while they ended up playing out 23.3 overs in the second essay of the second Test. On the other hand, Maharaj and Harmer combined to take a whopping 29 of the 40 wickets to fall in the series.
It was the second successive match in which the two spinners bowled unchanged through the fourth innings. It was also Maharaj’s second seven-wicket haul in successive matches after he took seven for 32 in South Africa's 220-run win in the first Test in Durban.
Maharaj, who top-scored with 84 in South Africa’s first innings, was named player of the match and player of the series.
South Africa shrugged off the loss of five leading players, including their full first-choice fast bowling line-up, to the Indian Premier League.
“People say we’re playing the series with a weakened squad but I don't see it like that,” Elgar said at the post-match presentation.
“I see that as giving guys opportunities at this level, testing their skills and seeing where they are as an international cricketer.”
Elgar praised Maharaj and Harmer, who took advantage of spin-friendly conditions in both Tests.
“What a combination that is,” he said. “It’s great to see two guys experienced in their careers going about their business at the highest level.”
Elgar said the performance of some of the younger players was a highlight of the series. “They are putting their hands up and putting pressure on the guys who aren't here,” he said.
Speaking later at a press conference, Elgar said South Africa had enjoyed a successful summer with five wins in seven Tests but he was mindful that major challenges lay ahead with away series against England and Australia coming up.
He said the IPL players were not guaranteed their places. “I think the guys who have played right now have made a massive statement.”