Cape Town – The
Proteas have a chance on Sunday to determinedly drop anchor at the crease and
save the first Test against India at Visakhapatnam … a draw would be a very
heartening result to a fragile side in the throes of rebuild.
target (395) set them by Virat Kohli seems well out of reach, especially with
primary first-innings hero Dean Elgar already back in the hut and South Africa
11 for one at stumps.
So the last-day
mission seems simple: resist.
It will be a
tall order on a wearing pitch -- and even if they do shut up shop successfully,
the tourists will have some awkward team-composition issues to grapple with
before the circus shifts onward in the three-Test series to Pune.
took a spin-heavy approach to the first encounter, fielding three specialists
in regular first-choice Keshav Maharaj, plus Dane Piedt and debutant Senuran
Maharaj bagged five wickets across the two innings and was especially
impressive for both his stamina (in a formidable 55-over load) and economy in
the Indian first knock, the other two were notably less successful.
Piedt ended his bowling contribution to the match with one for 209 – in only 36
overs, meaning an expensive economy rate of 5.81 – while Muthusamy got one for
83 and an overall concession rate of 5.43.
only sent down a paltry three overs in the second innings, which rather begged
the question of whether it was wise playing a second orthodox left-arm spinner
to main figure Maharaj.
Muthusamy made some valuable first-innings runs (33 not out at No 8) should be
considered little more than a bonus: will there really be enough reason, going
forward in the series, to have him offering largely the same trade as his more
experienced Dolphins colleague does?
result on Sunday, the brains trust will have to seriously consider either
adding an extra seamer to the mix – both Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada
kept an acceptable enough lid on things in typically unhelpful conditions – or
bolstering the still vulnerable batting through Zubayr Hamza.
to build pressure and stifle the opposition run rate is almost as important a
skill as striking in the wickets column for spinners on the Subcontinent, and
both Piedt and Muthusamy, frankly, failed on all counts in Visakhapatnam.
Piedt is the
likelier to hold onto his place for the second Test, in the hope that he finds
better rhythm after his long off-season back home, and benefiting from his
different angle of attack to Maharaj.
don’t lie and it is a cold fact that the SA spinners, between them, have been
overwhelmingly responsible for some records in this Test that only demonstrate
how contemptuously they were often treated by twin century-maker Rohit Sharma
(176 and 127), in particular.
has seen India post the most sixes in any Test match: 27.
It beats off
the prior landmark of 22 by New Zealand against Pakistan in 2014.
Sharma, who was always so willing to waltz down the track to the Proteas slow
bowlers, was responsible for 13 of them alone (six in the first knock, seven in
his second) – making him the new record-holder for most sixes by an individual
in a specific Test match.
Pakistani all-rounder Wasim Akram, who struck 12 against Zimbabwe in 1996.
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