Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
2 minute read
12 Jan 2022
8:22 pm

Kohli wicket is key, says rising Proteas No 3 Petersen

Ken Borland

The rookie South African batsman has been one of his team's star batters in the three-Test series.

Keegan Petersen of South Africa celebrates scoring a half century during day two of the third Test against India at Newlands on Wednesday. Picture: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images

“In our minds we will be back in the game if we get Virat Kohli early tomorrow,” Proteas batsman Keegan Petersen admitted on Wednesday after the Indian captain steered his team to 57/2 and a lead of 70 runs at stumps on the second day of the third Test at Newlands.

Having surrendered a 13-run first-innings lead despite Petersen’s defiant career-best innings of 72, South Africa rocked the Indian second innings by removing both openers with just 24 runs on the board.

But Kohli (14*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (9*) then steadied the innings. The pair of experienced batsmen shared a first-innings stand of 62, Kohli going on to bat for four-and-a-half hours, scoring 79, and the Proteas know just how important it will be on Thursday morning to nip their current partnership of 33 in the bud.

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“We’re a bit behind the eight-ball and these two batsmen have been a bit of a headache for us,” Petersen said. “Virat is one of the best batsmen in the world, he’s shown that time and time again.

“If we can get him early then it will break open the game, in our minds we will be back in it. Taking a few early wickets on Thursday will be key.”

Petersen initially struggled to establish himself in Test cricket, scoring just 76 runs in his first five innings, but he was not helped by having to come to the wicket with less than 10 runs on the board in all those knocks.

There was speculation that he should drop down the order in an effort to ease his passage into the international game, but he has now scored half-centuries in successive Tests in his beloved No 3 position.

“It has been a challenge, the most difficult attack I’ve ever faced, but I like batting at three, I’ve batted there for most of my career,” Petersen said.

“It’s been tough for the openers on the pitches we’ve played on, and Aiden Markram is just going through a rough patch, but he’s a quality batsman who will pull through.

“But if I can make the No 3 position mine, I’d be very happy,” Petersen added.

Scoring 162 runs in his last three innings there suggests he is well on course for that.