Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
2 minute read
29 Dec 2021
7:25 am

‘We’ve got to front up,’ says Bavuma about Proteas’ challenge

Ken Borland

The South Africans face an uphill battle in the first Test against India after a batting collapse on day three.

Proteas captain Dean Elgar congratulates Kagiso Rabada after taking the wicket of KL Rahul of India during day three of the first Test in Centurion on Tuesday. Picture: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images

Proteas vice-captain Temba Bavuma said on Tuesday evening that it will be all about intensity in the field and defiant batting if South Africa are to find a way back into the first Test against India at SuperSport Park in Centurion.

India finished the third day with a lead of 146 runs and nine wickets in hand, a commanding position especially since 18 wickets fell on Tuesday. India lost the last seven wickets of their first innings for just 55 runs, to be bowled out for 327, but South Africa’s top-order were all at sea as they crashed to 32/4 in reply.

Bavuma himself led the rearguard, batting for three hours as he top-scored with 52, getting some support from Quinton de Kock (34), before bowlers Marco Jansen (19), Kagiso Rabada (25) and Keshav Maharaj (12) helped cut the deficit to 130.

It is going to require a massive fightback though from the Proteas for them to break the Indian stranglehold.

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“What’s happened in the first innings has happened and what happens in the first session on Wednesday is going to be super-key,” Bavuma said after stumps. “In the field and with the ball, we need to bring the same intensity we did this morning.

“That’s what is required again and then the batsmen have to make it as hard as possible for the Indian bowlers. We’ve got to front up and back our defence as much as we can. We want to cut out soft dismissals.

“The way we played on the first day, when India scored 272/3, was not the standard nor the intensity we can play at. The lack of match practice is a factor, but we have to make sure that mentally we find a way to be up for the challenge.

“You have to credit India’s bowlers, especially Mohammed Shami [5/44], for the way they bowled and their batsmen applied themselves well, with Lokesh Rahul (123) batting through,” Bavuma said.

Shami has now hurt the South African batting on all kinds of pitches and has taken 39 wickets in nine Tests against the Proteas at an average of just 19.35.

“He’s a world-class bowler, we’ve seen him do well around the world so it’s not unexpected. When he bowls good balls to get batsmen out, then credit to him,” Bavuma, who was caught behind off Shami, said.

“But on the first day, the pitch was slower and the movement was not as exaggerated. Today with the pitch being in the sun, it was really difficult to handle.”