SA closer to great escape

2010-02-17 14:35

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – With more than a little help from the weather gods, South Africa’s white-knuckle ride in Kolkata just got even whiter.

A severely curtailed fourth day’s play (34 overs) in the second Test against India on Wednesday has presented them with a significantly better chance than before they started it of saving the match and stealing the series.

Put it this way: trying to save a Test with seven wickets in hand on the final day is rather more realistic than trying to do so with 10 intact and a whole two days in prospect.

And yet India, let’s not forget, are also chipping away at their victory task as diligently as the weather would allow them.

Spearheaded by the suddenly effective leg-spin of Amit Mishra, they boast three scalps including those of the Proteas’ most seasoned and proven batting duo, Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis.

Those were extremely damaging torpedoes to a South African hull that is now listing 232 runs in arrears: enough to suggest, I think, that the odds remain weighted at least 70-30 in favour of India completing the job on Thursday.

Importantly from a home point of view, much sunnier skies are anticipated over Eden Gardens when both the series and these nations’ statuses at the top of the world rankings go right down to the wire.

Even if bad light intervenes – likeliest late in the third session, you would imagine – an extended day’s quota of 98 overs is a lot of surviving to do if you are a plucky remaining South African batsman.

But at least Hashim Amla is still there, looking as classically composed and confident as he has done throughout this mini-series.

The KwaZulu-Natalian presently sports 416 runs over the course of the two Tests for just one dismissal … imagine if he is still there at Thursday’s close! But whatever happens in the salvation quest, Amla is going to be right up there for player of the series.

It was an inspired move, I thought, to promote the struggling Ashwell Prince back to his favourite Test position of No 5 for South Africa’s all-important second innings.

It means that the Proteas have a left-right combo presently at the crease to slightly unsettle the Indian spinners, with a right-hander in AB de Villiers to come and then another “leftie” in JP Duminy.

This is a crucial time not only for the national team but also for both Prince and Duminy’s current Test careers.

Whichever of these out-of-form customers prospers markedly better in this innings, perhaps, will hang onto his spot for the first Test in the West Indies at Sabina Park from June 10, as Alviro Petersen has emphatically booked himself a berth for that encounter and Mark Boucher will also have assumed his wicket-keeping spot again.

From the dreamy start of 150 on first exposure as an opening batsman against Australia at Newlands last season, Prince’s stocks in that slot have tumbled like an Alpine avalanche, and Duminy may always be slightly advantaged in the middle-order now by offering his off-spin as an extra skill and more “investment” potential to the side as well.

But it is certainly high noon on Thursday for both players.

Remember also that there is no Boucher to “guts it out” at the crease – one of his favourite responsibilities – although there is healthy competition among the much-of-a-muchness Proteas tail-enders for positions eight to 11.

This would be a grand occasion for one of them to send his batting credentials soaring, perhaps in a lengthy stand with a more specialist willow-wielder, wouldn’t it?

The pitch is still not showing pronounced evidence of truly nasty wear and tear, and leaden skies and so little activity on it on day four will not exactly have hurried further its decline.

It also seems as if Zaheer Khan has some sort of thigh niggle; should the strike bowler be struggling and the Proteas mount a large partnership, their already low-staffed bowling resources may be stretched even closer to the limit.

So a nerve-jangling finale awaits us: my money, I’m afraid, stays on the team who have mostly had an iron grip on this Test match.
But my wallet has also been unpleasantly looted in sporting flutters before …


  • Centurion - 2010-02-17 14:53

    Amla will have to be there at tea if we are to save this. Hopefully Prince, AB and JP can provide adequate support at the other end.

  • Centurion - 2010-02-17 14:56

    Good to see Amla establish himself at 3 - he has really delivered in the last 2 years. Statistically, he is probably one of the best no. 3's that we have had since readmission.

  • Emile - 2010-02-17 14:58

    Without Boucher, the tail seems just too fragile. Let's hope the weather forecasters in India are as moronic as ours in SA and that tomorrow will have its fair share of rain interruptions. I think our only chance to prevent another predictable "CHOCKING" display is to pray for rain, rain, rain and more rain. Fifth day on those dust strips of theirs can only produce one winner and one Chocker, unless the rain wins.

  • @Emile - 2010-02-17 15:21

    Swell spelling first off. I am willing to bet my house and my car that you didnt congratulate the Proteas when they have won or saved games from difficult positions on numerous occasions. Change the record its getting very old. Classic trolling - no result at all

  • Ozbob - 2010-02-17 15:40

    Centurion don't go overboard about Amla he really is fairly average, and Emile what the hell is chocking is that supposed to be shocking or choking

  • Ozbob - 2010-02-17 15:42

    Centurion don't go overboard about Amla he really is fairly average, and Emile what the hell is chocking is that supposed to be shocking or choking

  • Steve - 2010-02-17 15:43

    Anyone know if any player in history has scored a double and 2 centuries in succession? If we want to save the game, Hash will have to become that man!

  • 4evaProtea - 2010-02-17 15:44

    588 balls to go amla face min 150 prince 60 to 80 ( if we lucky) the bal to be faced by ab jp( again if we lucky) and the tail cummon boys min 3 sessions cant c it going trough to the end of the day the light wnt hold up. hash u got it in u to steer us to no one with the help of ab and the tail not counting on ashwell and jp they so out of form, lets hope prince and jp can prove me wrong and put up a wall of resistantce, you 2 owe us suporters that.................

  • THE MAN - 2010-02-17 15:50

    it is articles like this the installs false hope into de wit span supporters "sa closer to great escape" i mean really listen to yourself??? the mornings sessions always bring a wicket and come tomorrow morning there will probably be 2 quick wickets boom bang thats it game over.only write an article like this when there is half an hour left of play and you know for sure there will be a "great escape vir de wit span"lol wonder you people always get dissapointed,

  • Rod - 2010-02-17 15:50

    those 2 'walking wickets,Prince[ss] and Doominy had better get their act together! Doominy's 2 dropped catches cost an additional 180+ runs he took 1 wicket[he's now being described as the next allrounder to take over from Kallis!] and got himself a royal duck-frankly it does'nt matter what he does this innings he has not contributed,and hasn't for a while,there are others that deserve that spot.

  • 360deg - 2010-02-17 15:52

    This side is more balance without Boucher, i don't know what this author is on about. He says nothing about harris's inability to take wickets or to dry up the runs on a spinners track. Boff the great pretender he pretends to be a captain. Were r the Smiff fans. The only reason why Botha has not replaced harris yet is because boff has to much say in the team as he's afraid that botha will take over the mantel of captain from him. Alviro has proven he must be given a chance. Prince, Amla brings metal to the team, JP, AB, Morkel, Steyn and Parnell are the future of cricket. so unfortunately dropping boucher is the only alternative. he should be thanking the cricket public for his millions. On the other hand it could be the second hansiegate saga. the smiffgate that is the only other reason why this team blows hot and cold. "like pakistan and we know they were on the take.

  • J S Baker - 2010-02-17 16:09

    Irrespective of the outcome of this Test there are one or two pressing maters to be resolved.From my memory Duminy came into the Test side in Australia to replace an injured Ashwell Prince.He performed that well that he retained his position and Prince was sidelined.Duminy however has over the last 12 to 13 innings not performed at all and to the point where his confidence has obviously gone completely and shrewd Test match level observers have worked out his weaknesses. He is not selected as a bowler but as a batsman. Ashwell Prince however has had to accept,up till now the role of an opener,which is alien to him,as the only way to get back into the side, Would it not be prudent to allow Prince to bat down the order to restablish him as the batsman we know and release Duminy back to Provincial or English County cricket to work on his technique and gain further experience.He certainly has time on his side. I am not against the idea of a batsman playing himself back into form but at the moment he is going nowhere.

  • Rob Johnson - 2010-02-17 16:16

    I think 360deg should right himself quickly as doing such a turn has dimished his intelligence and authority to comment on team selections.

  • Ozbob - 2010-02-17 16:22

    the truth is it doesn't matter what the result is tomorrow the number 1 team in the world is Australia by quite a margin you just have to look at the team, one word AWESOME

  • Just Cricket - 2010-02-17 16:23

    @THE MAN. Stop your r@c|sm and concentrate on the cricket. Peterson, Amla, Prince, Duminy and Parnell certainly are NOT white. Only 55% of the team is white. |DiOT sh|t-stirrer. I believe we can do it if Duminy and Prince do their bit. They owe us BIG. @360deg. I don't know what you are on about. Are you trying to score points with someone? A great example is the first innings when the batting collapsed like a ton of bricks and AB not taking catches. Boucher is a proven fighter and brilliant w/k. Get it into you puny brain....get it !!!!! Botha cannot bowl he's doosra, therefore is not any better than Harris. You don't know your cricket at all. Alviro has proven he can score runs, but he is YET to prove he can do it consistent at test level. Don't jump the gun. What are you smoking to give Smith such harsh treatment. You wouldn't know his value if it hit you in the face a million times, because you never played cricket, You are also a sh|t-st|rrer armchair critic, just like THE MAN !!!!!

  • Just Cricket - 2010-02-17 16:27

    @J S Baker. 100% correct analysis. I always said Duminy would be found out by international bowlers. Unfortunately he has done nothing about it. Prince for Duminy, and retain Peterson and Boucher.

  • NeilA @ THE little MAN tshepo - 2010-02-17 16:28

    I am now convinced you are obsessed with white people, every single post is "wit this wit that" settle done boy, remember the saying, if you cant beat `em, join `em. Really, if only your parents knew how you have grown up, im sure they would be really dissapointed in the little man named tshepo. PS: YOUR AN EMBARRESMENT TO THE TRUE AFRICAN SON OF THE SOIL, shame on you!

  • Ryan - 2010-02-17 16:31


  • Craig - 2010-02-17 16:31

    Smith needs to be curtailed, we are spiralling down the Hansie road again!!! He may well give us good runs but he is not a captains @ss! The man has no idea how to set a field for crying out loud! Duminy is out of form and needs to be dropped and Prince given an opportunity lower down the order! Boucher is past his prime and AB has to take the position he was initially brought in for, keeper batsmen! Bouch don't be a donald and hang onto the glory days you were great for SA and will always be regarded as one of our best(definitely THE best so far!). Come on guys be realistic, we blow hot and cold because our captain is unstable...lets all wipe the muck out our eyes and see the trouble which has already brewed!!!

  • Centurion - 2010-02-17 16:40

    Ozbob, so a test average in the mid 40's is "fairly average"? Surely you can't be serious.

  • Middle Stump - 2010-02-17 16:41

    There are a few holes in the Proteas team - Namely Duminy who is OVERRTATED ! - I mentioned this to a couple of my buddies after his dynamic innings in Oz - be carefull boys of not getting to ahead of yourselves in his praises I said - as he WILL wilt once top class bowlers figure him out - since the Aussie tests he has produced nada - zilch - niks - bugger all - once again our press and public jumping the gun and heaping praises on players who do not have BMT !! If he is as talented as most pundits would like us to believe - then this would have come to the fore by now - at present his talent and potential is as a one hit wonder - and as history will have it - one hit wonders do not stay top of the charts too long - and usually fade into oblivion ! Never ceases to amaze me how the Aussies manage to produce top class young players who talk the talk - and also manage to walk the walk - this is what makes them the CONSISTENT number one cricket nation in the world - and they are capable of taking on all comers/pretenders to their crown at any time anywhere in the world - in any competition ! Something the Proteas are lacking - and have done for sometime ! Yip - I know all the cricket boffins on this thread are now going to spew forth all types of stats and BS to shoot me down - saying I am negative and unpatriotic ! I am a fierce supporter of SA sport - however it is now becoming laughable on how we try to protect mediocrity - and continue to look for excuses for dodgy performances from our little flower cricket team. So before you all start rambling on and shooting me down in flames - take a moment to reflect - and remember - We are only keeping the throne warm - while the real kings of world cricket take a hiatus !! All the stats and results over time have proved this !

  • John - 2010-02-17 16:53

    My money is on the Proteas saving this one. Duminy, Prince & Abie are all due a big one. We were also robbed twice against England so I reckon the big guy in the sky owes us one!

  • james - 2010-02-17 17:03

    you moaning armchair experts should start your own team....crikey you're insufferable. i

  • Ant - 2010-02-17 17:05

    @Craig - You're an idiot and obviously know nothing about cricket or about Graeme Smith. Read his book "a Captain's Diary" and you'll be amazed at how the game of cricket really works, and you'll have a whole new opinion on the humble captain Smith. Then come and comment hear - remember when watching cricket on TV that cricket commentators are just trying to find something to talk about so they play devils advocate with the what if senarios. The Captain and the team know so much more about the opposition batters and bowlers than you ever dreamed possible. They have a plan - but due to the nature of the game the plan does not always work. Get a life dude!

  • Burgiesburnin - 2010-02-17 17:10

    Only England have the depth and class to win or draw a game from this position.

  • @Middle Stump - 2010-02-17 17:11

    The Aussies are rubbish and will be for a long time. They wont be number one agin for a loooong time. Nice try loser

  • marco - 2010-02-17 18:04

    Yep we nearly there thanks largely to the weather.I did say yesterday that there was a 30% chance of rain, I just didn't expect it to be so helpful for the Proteas in that only 35 overs were possible. Fortunately we lost only 3 wickets it could have been a lot worst say 6 down with a day to play.Now off course the main thing really in saving this test on day 5 is Amla's wicket.If the Indians get him then we screwed but as long as his there we should be fairly ok to see it home.As Kallis say's he is a good pilot and I might add an important one with 416 runs so far in this series-no doubt what ever happens from now on Amla is the player of the series.But he has one last thing to do and that is to stay in as long as he can and yes he has the mental toughness to do it.The other thing in SA's favour is the overnight rain forecast for tonight which means a wet outfield in the morning and also the Indian groundstaff has to clear all that mud and what have you before play starts.Throwing sand won't work I don't know why the hell they throw sand to try and dry out a pitch its crazy.The advantage for India is that they have a full 7 hours of play to get 7 wickets and that's not imposible to get.Fingers cross they don't get it.

  • PDW - 2010-02-17 18:06

    This where we miss Gibbs and Boucher - they've been and exelled in this kind of situation.

  • @Burgiesburnin - 2010-02-17 18:51

    if Ingerland is so good why are they ranked so low in all formats

  • Ingo - 2010-02-17 19:19

    @Burgiesburnin... England has what??? What are you talking about? What do you mean? Do me a favoure and read the definition of the word "class".... Then try again.... thanks...

  • RG - 2010-02-17 20:05

    We need Julius "Platkop" Malema and Jacob "Showerhead" Zuma to strike a deal with the Injuns for Proteas not to loose this match. Those two are our saviours from a peaceful and crime-free country. If you love a violent and chaotic failed state as a country say it with me: Long Live Julius "Platkop" Malema Long Live! Long Live Jacob "Showerhead" Zuma Long Live! Comrades, yeah comrades we like to talk like old commies you know. We like being stuck in the past you know. Come now commies, let us follow our leaders into a deep dark future! Long Live Julius "Platkop" Malema Long Live! Long Live Jacob "Showerhead" Zuma Long Live!

  • Lesley - 2010-02-17 22:29

    Unfortunately, I see India winning this game by a huge margin because the proteas are not mentally tough to perform on a big stage and sorry to say this but the proteas used to be my team I support but until there is a major shake up above without political interference and players stop leaving. Another thing is that sa is really that bad that we should be ranked lower then six. I think because the result will be an embarrassment for true sa fans I would tell them now don't bother watching because the proteas are going to crumble especially with the spin bowlers. sa should also be fined for match fixing.

  • Richard - 2010-02-17 22:30

    Hey RG, what are you on? I thought these comments were supposed to be about cricket?

  • TrueCricketLover - 2010-02-17 23:24

    Hello guys, I am from India and I very much like the South African team. They are much better than the Australians who know how to sledge better than anyone else. I fail to understand why some people among you are still raising the race issue here. I just want to watch good cricket irrespective of the result. Also, I think it is too early to write off Duminy or Prince as test cricket is unpredictable and who knows either of the two may rise to the occasion and save the test for SA. This match go still go either way !

  • keith - 2010-02-17 23:56

    to all the aussies, u lost in india, u lost to us at home, and your team is now pathetic. talking about your prime players such as warne mcgrath etc is like west indies talking about their former players, whereas they have got nothing!

  • Johnnie Cash - 2010-02-18 02:16

    Honestly,as much as i want us to draw this one, i just dont see the guys doing it tomorrow, read my lips, the game will be over an hour after lunch. Sorry guys

  • Monty from Down Under - 2010-02-18 05:22

    To the the SAFA jokers including KEITH who think they are good when the beat the Aussies in the back yard after a major generational change(7 great players), which started in India and then to RSA. The change is almost complete now with a bit more talent on the horizon. Remember OZ dominated both forms of cricket for 15+ years not for 12 months. Living in a fool paradise for a 12 month period is good for World Cricket, however it has allowed the Aussies to change and dominate for the next 10 years. A new leggie is on offing. Good luck to the RSA to make cricket a bit more competitive, but OZ will dominate again as I do not see ant generational changes in the Proteas.

  • AJ @ keith - 2010-02-18 05:54

    That useless aussie team you talk about us beating, came to South Africa a month afterwards and handed it us in a severe test beating (Mitchell Johnson, strike bowler doing it with wickets and the odd test 100 and 50). We are a good team for sure, perhaps the best around at the moment. But if the only way you can up the Proteas is by deriding the Aussies, then stay away from the records books, stats etc because our performances over time pale against theirs by some way. That said and done, let's hope our boys can stand firm on Thursday.

  • Andrew - 2010-02-18 07:54

    here's a question, God forbid my intelligence but if we are good enough to be in a position that bad weather may allow us to draw and to be number one, how is it undeserved?? it will be a series win IN India remember!! or did we get from isolation to number 2 in the world because of the weather...Gawd, some of you people are thick!! Number 1 is NUMBER ONE, SURELY??!!!

  • Andrew - 2010-02-18 07:55

    here's a question, God forbid my intelligence but if we are good enough to be in a position that bad weather may allow us to draw and to be number one, how is it undeserved?? it will be a series win IN India remember!! or did we get from isolation to number 2 in the world because of the weather...Gawd, some of you people are thick!! Number 1 is NUMBER ONE, SURELY??!!!

  • davet - 2010-02-18 08:48

    It is idiots like THE MAN that continue to make everything black or white instead of South African. Maybe we can take up a collection and send this dick to Australia! Go PROTEAS Go! Hang In there boys! Great test cricket!

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