Johannesburg — The Proteas batters will need to be decisive as they face up to the prospect of a relentless Indian attack on a tricky Wanderers surface on Thursday.
South Africa still need 122 runs to win the second Test and tie the series, while for India, the task is to get eight more wickets to become the first Indian team to win a Test series in this country. Neither task will be easy, although the tourists start as slight favourites, given the nature of the surface, which is still offering plenty for the seamers, while on Wednesday off-spinner, Ravi Ashwin got a couple of deliveries to spin, and bounce spitefully.
" It won’t be an easy task, but we believe that we can chase this down,” the Proteas’ batting consultant, Justin Sammon said on Wednesday. “Their attack has been pretty relentless throughout the series so far and the pitch has been tricky.”
Sammon, who was appointed before the T20 World Cup in October and will remain with the team for the rest of the summer, said the home side’s batters needed to strike a balance between attack and defence.
“We spoke about the need to be decisive, coming into these two Tests on the Highveld, knowing that any tentativeness will see you found out quickly, especially at the Wanderers.
While Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara adopted a positive approach in their 111-run third wicket, and Aiden Markram followed suit in scoring 31, Sammon explained that a balanced approach to batting was key on this surface.
“You can’t be reckless, you’ve got to stay in a plan that you know will give you your best chance of success and not every type of shot does that on this type of wicket. So in every shot there has to be an element of discipline, but obviously balanced with a positive mindset and looking to dominate balls that are in our areas.”
Elgar, not one for fluency, is absolutely vital, and the home team will want him to be the rock around which their fourth day chase happens. “Having somebody there to bat through the rest of the innings will be key. That allows partnerships to be formed and just having someone with his character there, will help the guys who are coming in to bat. His leadership will be key in getting us over the line tomorrow.”
Elgar copped a pair of nasty blows from Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, but Sammon said it was just the kind of thing to focus the mind of the Proteas captain.
“Dean’s a competitor at heart, it's what he loves about the game, the competitiveness and the competitive nature of Test cricket. It brings the best out of him. It allows his character to shine through.”