Town - Proteas captain Faf
du Plessis said in the build-up to the first Test against
India that, in big series, runs from the lower order could often be the
difference between winning and losing.
If the Proteas do emerge with a
victory at Newlands over the next few days, they will surely have to thank, at
least in some part, their lower order batsmen.
With the top three all back in
the hut and with the Proteas 12/3 on a spicy wicket, it took some gritty
efforts with the bat to get them to a first innings total of 286.
AB de Villiers (65), Du Plessis
(62) and Quinton de Kock (43) had all played their part, but there were some
crucial runs down the order too.
Vernon Philander, still unconvincing
as a No 7, got to 23 before he was bowled by Mohammed Shami while Keshav
Maharaj batted superbly for his 35 before a non-sensical runout cost him his
Kagiso Rabada also chipped in
with a well-played 26 before he was caught behind off the spin of Ravichandran
Ashwin, while Dale Steyn ticked along to 16* on his Test return.
The 77 runs between Maharaj,
Rabada and Steyn were particularly pleasing from a South African perspective
and batting coach Dale Benkenstein praised the efforts of the lower order on
"Those runs down the bottom
there, especially in tough batting conditions, are vital," he said.
"It’s really just about
encouraging them to practice and have a gameplan. As you’ve seen, most of them
can actually at and I think it’s just about getting them to believe in that.
Batting is a huge confidence game. Hopefully those runs give us a bit of a
cushion late on in the game."
Benkenstein was also pleased with
the healthy run-rate the Proteas went at throughout their innings. For the most
part, they were hovering between 4 and 4.5 to the over.
"As a general philosophy as
a batter you go out there to get runs and on a wicket like that you’re not
going to get many opportunities to do that," he said.
"I would rather they were
looking to score and then their last mindset is to leave or defend."
India will resume their second
innings on 28/3 on Saturday morning, still 258 runs behind South Africa.