Young pup Marco Jansen earned praise from Justin Sammons for standing up to Jasprit Bumrah on Wednesday and now the Proteas batting consultant is hopeful his remaining batsmen will show similar character in scoring the remaining 122 runs South Africa need for a remarkable win over India in the second Test at the Wanderers.
The Proteas ended the third day on 118/2, chasing 240 for victory, and went toe-to-toe with a feisty Indian team that is desperate to win their first series in South Africa.
The battle was at its most tense when left-arm quick Jansen was bowling a stream of short-pitched deliveries at fast bowler Bumrah, his Mumbai Indians team-mate, who was generally swinging and missing. But after being struck on the body, Bumrah advanced angrily down the pitch and gestured at Jansen to say what he had to say right to his face.
The 21-year-old took up the invitation and umpire Marais Erasmus quickly inserted himself between the two combatants.
“It was pleasing to see the young guy stand up for himself and his team-mates,” Sammons said. “He showed that he is in it for the team, that’s Marco, a real team man.
“It goes without saying that it’s not going to be an easy task against a pretty relentless attack, but we still believe we can win this Test. We need to stick to our plans, keep doing what we know brings us the best chance of success.
“Being decisive is a key aspect, but it’s not about playing every shot. You need that element of discipline, balanced with a positive mindset and being able to dominate balls in our areas.
“The basics must come first: Knowing where the off-stump is, leaving well, and in defence playing nice and late with good bat angles. Anything tentative will land the batsman in trouble,” Sammons said.
It’s the sort of batting exemplified by captain Dean Elgar, the opening batsman surviving for three hours up to stumps, scoring a doughty 46 not out that was garnished with just two boundaries. Aiden Markram (31) and Keegan Petersen (28) both played more strokes, but both were out lbw and will play no further part in the chase.
“It’s massively important to have someone like Dean there, to have someone bat through and allow partnerships to form around him,” Sammons said. “His leadership will go a long way to getting us over the line.
“Dean is definitely a tough cookie, a competitor. The competitiveness is what he loves about Test cricket, it brings out the best in him.”
Elgar will certainly be up for the fight on Thursday morning, he will be ready to bleed for the cause. The big question is whether the rest of the batsmen will be too.