South Africa are chasing a record-breaking 305 to win the first Test against India at Centurion and, sadly for the home side, they are already four wickets down heading into the final day on Thursday, with Kagiso Rabada honest enough to say the tourists’ attack are showing exactly why they are so highly-rated.
Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj are a trio of demolishers that are even more deadly on a SuperSport Park pitch that is offering prodigious movement and variable bounce with some deliveries standing up and others scuttling through low.
“India have quality bowlers. Shami and Bumrah are experienced now and Siraj has been bowling well recently too. It’s a good attack, full of pace and skill. They have showed why people say they are so good,” Rabada said after close of play on the fourth day on Wednesday.
Rabada also enjoyed bowling on the SuperSport Park pitch on Wednesday, taking 4/42 in 17 lively overs. Things went much better for South Africa with the ball in the second innings as they bowled India out for just 174, giving themselves an outside chance of winning the game.
“We tightened up our lines today, but the pitch was also a bit slow on Day 1 and then it has obviously quickened up. That made the movement quicker and gives the batsman less time to react, the ball shoots through more,” said Rabada.
“But this game is definitely still winnable for us, we have to show belief. We will strategise and work out how to approach the final day overnight. But we have to believe, you need that.
“There has been some chat about when it will or won’t rain, but that’s an uncontrollable and we have to come out tomorrow thinking we will play a full day’s cricket,” Rabada said.
The leader of the Proteas attack also had some kind words for his co-paceman Marco Jansen, who also took four wickets in the Indian second innings to complete a satisfactory debut.
“Marco is a phenomenal talent as everyone has now seen. He’s tall so he gets bounce, but he also swings the ball. He’s got it all – pace, bounce and swing.
“He’s justified his selection and he’s a hard-worker who wants to learn and is really keen to do well for the team,” Rabada said.
But on the final day, South Africa’s hopes will rest with captain Dean Elgar, who has scrapped for more than three hours and is 52 not out.
“Dean has done this countless times, fighting when things are at their toughest. He knows the job is not over, but he’s doing his best for the country, the team and himself. He’s leading from the front,” Rabada said.