On Saturday evening, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed was asked whether it’s fun facing the current Proteas attack.
“I don’t know,” he said with a tentative smile.
“It’s a good challenge.”
There wasn’t much conviction in the second part of his answer.
The truth is, no, Pakistan haven’t had much fun in this Test series with the bat.
Being dismissed for 185 in their first innings of the third Test means they’ve only passed 200 once in this whole series.
And it’s likely that the man whose contributed the most to Pakistan’s discomfort is Duanne Olivier.
The 26-year-old quick from the Knights took 5/51 to take his series tally to 21 – the most on any of the two sides.
Impressively, you wouldn’t have thought that would be the case pre-series when it’s considered the men next to him are Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.
“If you told me, I wouldn’t have believed you … but I would’ve taken it any day,” said Olivier rather dryly.
“The thing is that there are world-class players that are part of this attack. For me, its really just been about enjoying every moment and committing with every delivery. I’m really happy being the leading wicket-taker.”
It can be argued that Olivier is on a hot streak, given that he came into the series as the Mzansi Super League’s leading wicket taker after turning out for the Jozi Stars.
But the fun factor really shouldn’t be underestimated.
Olivier has been given the platform to, essentially, be the bully of this attack and he’s been more than willing.
“I really don’t mind fulfilling that role and bowling a bit short. It’s gone really well to date, so why change it?”
However, maybe that thought takes a bit away from his achievement.
Here, the Proteas weren’t getting the reward for their efforts and harmed their own cause by dropping four catches in the first hour.
Moments after the first drinks break, it was Olivier that took two wickets with consecutive deliveries to put the hosts on top.
For once, he was the leader, not the guy who fed off the pressure exerted by others.
Importantly, he took the lead in recovering from that infuriating first 60 minutes.
“Of course that period of play was frustrating, but it happens,” said Olivier.
“It was just about moving on and regrouping as quickly as possible. Dale (who had two catches dropped of his bowling) came into the huddle and just told us that what’s done is done. He just said what we were going to do in the second hour was going to be very important.”
Olivier took that to heart … like everything else he’s done in this series.