South Africa’s top order batsmen once again failed to perform, leaving the run-scoring responsibilities on their lower order. In reply to India’s first innings score of 601/5 declared, South Africa, at one stage, were reeling at 162/8 but their two front-line bowlers Keshav Maharaj and Vernon Philander then joined forces to avoid their side’s humiliating surrender against Indian bowlers. Leading their side’s fightback, the duo added 109 runs for the ninth wicket. The lower order contributions helped South Africa score 275 runs in their first innings. Their partnership not only helped South Africa get closer to the India’s first innings total but also showed their batsmen that there were no demons in the pitch and batsmen would have succeeded had they shown little more patience and applied skills better.
After the end of third day’s play on Saturday, South Africa’s middle-order batsman Temba Bavuma admitted that the knocks played by their lower-order have dented the ego of the top-order batsmen in the side.
“Look, from the guys at the top of the order, entrusted with scoring the bulk of the runs, it does kind of hurt. It does dent your ego when they (lower-order) seem to know how to go out and fight it out to do what you’re really playing to do,” Bavuma told the reporters at the post-match press-conference.
While accepting that it hurts when team’s bowlers contribute more with the bat than the batsmen, Bavuma showed optimism that the their fightback will give confidence to the top-order batsmen.
“I think looking forward to the second innings, there is a lot of confidence we can take in from the fact that it is not all demons out there. We just got to find a way to dominate with the bat just as India have done so,” Bavuma added.
When asked about why their batsmen have failed behind in back-to-back matches, Bavuma failed to provide signal out one clear reason. However, he did accept that one of the big reasons is that the batsmen have failed to stitch partnerships.
“I don’t have the answers to why it is going wrong. The obvious one is that we’re not able to put up partnerships. We have not been able to absorb and sustain the pressure that Indian bowlers have put on us for consistent periods of time. That is obviously something we will try to rectify.”
He revealed that interim coach Enoch Nkwe did an honest assessment of the side’s batting show.
After third day’s play, South Africa find themselves in a grim situation but the 29-year-old batsman hasn’t ruled his side out from the game.
“Yes, we have not done it in the first Test. We have not been able to do it here in the first two and a half days, but there is an opportunity to do it going forward. Like I said, there is a responsibility for us to stake our claim and do everyone justice,” an optimistic Bavuma said about his team’s chances in the match.
(With PTI inputs)
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