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South Africa's Harmer in four-wicket Test return, admits to 'self-doubt'

Returned with interest: Simon Harmer (right) celebrates after the dismissal of Mushfiqur Rahim . ©AFP

Durban (South Africa) (AFP) - Simon Harmer gave credit to English county Essex after spinning South Africa into a dominant position on the second day of the first Test against against Bangladesh at Kingsmead on Friday.

Harmer took all four wickets for 42 runs as Bangladesh slumped to 98 for four at the close in reply to South Africa's 367 all out.He also made 38 not out to enable South Africa's last two wickets to add 69 runs.

"Essex gave me the platform to find myself again," said Harmer as he revealed how he had regained his confidence after it seemed he had no future in the South African team.

Harmer, 32, played in five Tests before being dropped after a tour of India in November 2015. 

South Africa tried fellow off-spinner Dane Piedt and leg-spinner Imran Tahir before settling on left-armer Keshav Maharaj as their number one spinner.

"I had a lot of self-doubt," said Harmer, who was not even sure of getting another South African franchise contract before signing a Kolpak deal with Essex in 2017, making him ineligible for South Africa until the Kolpak system ended in 2020.

"Essex gave me the opportunity and the platform to rediscover what made me successful, leading me to becoming a match-winner for them and being comfortable with that," he said.

In between Test appearances, Harmer took 491 first-class wickets – 308 of them for Essex, with his bowling playing a major role in them winning the county championship twice.

Harmer made the first breakthrough in the last over before tea when he bowled Shadman Islam for nine with the third ball of his second over.

'Very good day'

Bowling in tandem with Maharaj, who conceded only 24 runs in 19 overs, Harmer ended a 55-run stand between Mahmudul Hasan and Najmul Hossain by bowling Najmul for 38 with a superb delivery which drifted in and spun past the bat.

Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque fell without scoring in Harmer's next over, caught off bat and pad by a diving Keegan Petersen at silly point.

The experienced Mushfiqur Rahim was Harmer's fourth victim, gloving a ball down the leg side to wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne.

"It's been a very good day.I don't think I could have scripted it better," said Harmer.

Mahmudul, playing in his third Test, survived until the close, scoring 44 not out.

Temba Bavuma top-scored for South Africa with 93, while fast bowler Khaled Ahmed took four for 92 for Bangladesh.Khaled had taken only one wicket – that of Pakistan captain Babar Azam – in his previous three Test matches.

Bavuma's long wait for a second Test century continued. 

He made 102 not out against England in Cape Town in January 2016 in his seventh Test match.He is currently making his 50th appearance and has scored 18 half-centuries without adding another three-figure score.

Bavuma batted through a tricky period for South Africa on Friday as Bangladesh bowled well with the second new ball on a pitch which appeared to have quickened up since the first day.

Khaled made a double strike, dismissing Verreynne and Wiaan Mulder off successive deliveries.

South Africa were 245 for six, having added only 12 runs to their overnight total, but Bavuma and Maharaj added 53 runs for the seventh wicket as Bavuma moved closer to his hundred.

He fell short again when he attempted a cut against a ball from off-spinner Mehidy Hasan which spun back sharply and deflected off his pad into the stumps.He had faced 190 balls and hit 12 fours.

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