'A day for heroes'
Kolkata - Master Batsman Jacques Kallis believes that the Proteas’ two battling left-handers, Ashwell Prince and JP Duminy, will come good when it really counts on the final day of the Test series against India at Eden Gardens on Thursday.
The Proteas finished a rain-restricted fourth day on which a little more than a third of the overs could be bowled on 115/3 for an overall deficit of 232 runs with 98 overs left to play.
Crucially the Proteas have lost three key wickets including Kallis but the batting hero of the tour, Hashim Amla (49 not out) is still at the crease in partnership with Prince. The latter has been moved up to No. 5 ahead of AB de Villiers in a move that is no doubt destined to spread the left-handed element around the top order.
It is a move that should certainly make Prince feel good as he has made nearly all his big Test runs from the No. 5 position and it is the one in which he is clearly the most comfortable.
“Hashim has been in great form so obviously he needs to keep that going and I know that he is hungry to do that,” commented Kallis. “It is also a great time for JP and Ashwell to turn it around. What better time to do it than on an important day like this? They have done it on occasions like this before and they can turn it around. Tomorrow is a day for heroes.”
Kallis said it was important for the rest of the team to learn the lessons that Amla had taught on this tour.
“The biggest lesson of all is when you are in good form not to give it away. He is mentally a very strong player and he has excellent powers of concentration. He knows his game plan very well and he has executed it brilliantly. There are some valuable lessons there for all players around the world.”
Kallis remained upbeat that the Proteas could bat out the day, particularly if they continued to play positively and put India under pressure by wiping out their overall lead. Such a scenario would mean that every run would become effectively two as they would be runs that India would have to go out and score in whatever time remained available.
“We feel we can bat out tomorrow, just take it a ball at a time and be positive.
“The wicket is still very good for batting. There is a little bit of turn but not as much as you normally come across on day five on the sub-continent. There is not much there for the seamers either so certainly as far as batting conditions are concerned it is a good wicket to play on.
“There is a little bit more bounce for Harbhajan than there was at Nagpur. It is probably slightly quicker but there is not a lot of turn. We have played spinners well in the past and there is no reason why we can’t do it again tomorrow.”
If the Proteas can get through for a draw they will regain the No. 1 ranking on the ICC Test rankings, a position they held briefly from the time Australia lost the Ashes in England until India took it away by winning their recent home series against Sri Lanka.
Regardless of what happens on Thursday the position will become a lot clearer when the Proteas entertain India for their home Castle Test series in the summer of 2010/11.
One worry for India is that their bowling spearhead, Zaheer Khan, spent time off the field on Wednesday and his fitness to bowl a significant number of overs will be important.