01192018

South Africa win inaugural four-day Test inside two days

South Africa celebrate

The match ended within five sessions

South Africa raced to victory in the inaugural four-day Test against Zimbabwe, taking 16 wickets on day two to win by an innings and 120 runs.

Aiden Markram’s century put the home side in control in the one-off match in Port Elizabeth before Morne Morkel took 5-21 in the tourists’ first innings.

Zimbabwe were 36 without loss at tea in their second innings, but crumbled in the final session.

Spinner Keshav Maharaj finished them off by taking 5-59.

Craig Ervine was Zimbabwe’s top second-innings scorer with 23 as they struggled with the conditions and the pink ball.

“I don’t think we were overwhelmed but it was a surprise to us to see the ball move around like that. We didn’t assess conditions that well,” said Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer.

“This shows us where we are and where we need to be.”

South Africa’s AB de Villiers marked his return to Test cricket after almost two years out with 53.

“The bowlers were exceptional on a very spicy wicket but we still needed to do the basics well and we didn’t miss our mark very often,” De Villiers said.

South Africa’s next outing will be a three-Test series against the top-ranked side India which begins on Friday, 5 January.

Why was this different from other Tests?

In October 2017 the International Cricket Council (ICC) gave the go-ahead for a trial of four-day Test matches, which will run up until the 2019 World Cup in England.

ICC chief executive David Richardson said: “Four-day Tests will provide the new Test-playing countries with more opportunities to play the longer version of the game.

“It will, in turn, will help them to hone their skills and close the gap with the top-nine ranked teams.”

The South Africa v Zimbabwe day-night match was played under experimental conditions, which featured several variations from a standard Test match.

Play was scheduled to last for six and a half hours – 30 minutes more than in five-day Tests – with 98 overs to be bowled each day, eight more than usual.

The follow-on could be enforced with a lead of 150 runs, compared to 200 runs in five-day games.

Five-day Test matches were introduced in 1972-73, before then they were played over any number of days from three to six, and occasionally there were timeless – the last timeless Test was played over 10 days between South Africa and England in Durban in 1939.

That match ended in a draw because England, despite needing only 42 runs to win with five wickets remaining, had to leave to catch a boat home.

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