Cape Town - A change of mindset regarding subcontinental conditions has enabled Kyle Abbott to star for the Proteas in the current Test against India in Delhi.
Abbott became the first seamer to take a fiver at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in 28 years with his first innings contribution of five for 40, where he offered little to the batsmen with tight lines and consistency.
“I've discussed a lot of bowling in the subcontinent with Dale Steyn and he always said that he felt he was always in the game here, I took that on board,” Abbott said at the close of day three on Saturday.
“Generally the pitches aren't 100% flat and there is a bit of bounce and reverse swing. It's about the mindset. If you're going to say it's going to be flat and hard for the seamers, then it’s going to be like that. But if you make the batsman play 90-95% of the balls, and one keeps low or one swings a bit then you have the best opportunity. He's been great at that and it's certainly something I've learned from him.”
The bowlers have had to toil relentlessly for nearly eight sessions of the match after the poor first-innings performance, with Virat Kohli (83 not out) and Ajinka Rahane (52 not out) sapping away at the energy resources on a slow batting day.
What India’s strategy for the fourth day will be remains to be seen but all hope hasn’t diminished for South Africa, who currently trail by 403 runs.
“The pitch has got a bit slower,” said Abbott. “On the first morning there was a bit of bounce and carry from both ends but I wouldn't say it has totally gone. I think there was a bit of fatigue setting in. We were on the field for quite a long time so naturally you do fatigue a bit. Maybe we haven't been as tight and I suppose it does play a factor over a long period of time.
“To be quite honest, the longer they bat, the happier we are,” he added. “More overs are taken out of the game. To be honest, I thought they would have a crack at us tonight, maybe an hour or so, but obviously not. They want to drag it out. If that's the case, it's going to take more overs out for us to bat in the end.”
Results aside, Abbott’s performance gives the selectors a good headache ahead of the series against England, with the paceman showing his capabilities on all surfaces. Apart from a short spell in Bangalore, this was Abbott's first test on the subcontinent, after playing most of his international matches in South Africa.
“One thing is for certain, your career is never a guarantee in this game,” he said. “It is always something that you are fighting for constantly. It is not only for myself but for every other international cricketer that's played international cricket.
“Going forward, I would take a lot of confidence out of this, especially from getting a fiver on this sort of deck. There might have been a few questions that I could only bowl in South Africa where there is a bit of nip but I’ve certainly shown that if the ball is reversing, I have the ability to take wickets. I'm certainly going to take that on board and use that as motivation.”