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South African batsmen off key in tune up for England series

South African batsmen off key in tune up for England series

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South African test cricketers delivered mediocre returns on Thursday after being sent to play in domestic competition in a bid to find form before the first test against England.

Captain Hashim Amla, playing with a broken finger, scored only 10 while opener Dean Elgar faced five balls before getting out on the opening day of domestic four-day matches.

Last week the South African team management decided seven players in the 13-man test squad would need to spend time at the crease, or put in decent bowling spells, after the disappointment of a 3-0 test series defeat in India and with the four-test series against England starting on Dec. 26. On Thursday, only middle order batsman Temba Bavuma delivered a notable performance as he hit an unbeaten 52 for the Highveld Lions against the Dolphins in Johannesburg.

Amla, who spent 500 minutes at the crease in two innings of the last test against India in an ultimately futile bid to stave off defeat, lasted only 50 minutes this time as the Cape Cobras slumped to 146 all out against the Knights at Newlands in Cape Town.

Opener Stiaan van Zyl, dropped for the last test in India, did not advance his case for a recall as he made 15 and JP Duminy scored 35 before being trapped leg before wicket.

Elgar was out in the second over of the day without scoring but the Titans rallied to 251 for four against the visiting Warriors in Pretoria. All South African quick bowlers were given time off to rest after returning from India with Dale Steyn to undergo a fitness test to ascertain his recovery from a groin problem that limited his appearances in India.

By Mark Gleeson

(Editing by Justin Palmer; mark.gleeson@thomsonreuters.com; +27828257807; Reuters Messaging: Reuters Messaging: mark.gleeson.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)

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