Cape Town — South Africa are going to have to find another hero on Thursday if they are to remain in the contest in this series-decider here at Newlands.
At the Wanderers last week it took a stern conversation between captain Dean Elgar and his chief fast bowler Kagiso Rabada that lit the fire at the Bullring. That responsibility may fall at the feet of Rabada once again, but it could be anyone of Marco Jansen, Duanne Olivier or Keshav Maharaj.
At this stage with South Africa trailing by 70 runs with India just two wickets down in their second innings, they would not care if it’s anyone of the above quartet for this Test – and the series – is now titling favourably towards the visitors.
South Africa’s batting lone batting crusader Keegan Petersen hasn’t given up hope yet, and believes the bowling unit that have been superb throughout may still have one magical spell left within them.
“We are a bit behind the eight ball going into day three,” admitted Petersen, who struck his second consecutive half-century yesterday. “I think if we can pick up a few early wickets tomorrow (Thursday) morning it will be key, especially the two batters at the crease now. They have been a bit of a headache for us in the last couple of innings. If we can get two or three wickets it will be different.”
South Africa had begun the day on the front foot with the intent of taking advantage of the favourable batting conditions on the second day. But after resuming on 13/1, they were shocked by the second ball by Jasprit Bumrah, who removed Aiden Markram with the second ball of the day.
It set the tone for the remainder of the day with Bumrah collecting 5/42 whilst being ably supported by Mohammed Shami (2/39) and Umesh Yadav (2/64) as the hosts were rolled for 210 – 13 runs adrift of India’s first innings.
Petersen fought a lone battle with a solid 72 (166 balls, 9x4), but conceded that facing up to this classy Indian attack is one of the toughest assignments in world cricket at the moment.
“I think we sold ourselves short with the bat in terms of the runs. If we could have passed them and get a bit of a lead we would be happy. I think that was the plan coming into the day to bat as long as we could. It’s not for lack of trying. It’s just eluding us at the moment,” Petersen said.
“It’s extremely challenging out there. It is the toughest of my whole career. You have to be focused and on your mark all the time, otherwise they will expose you. They test you in terms of scoring. There are not many scoring opportunities. If the one does come then you have to pounce on it. They are arguably one of the best bowling attacks in the world. We knew that coming into the series that it would be challenging.”
South Africa will keep faith that this entire series has swung in vastly different directions with each passing session. They will hope that the first one on Thursday morning belongs to them.