Proteas need a mir­a­cle to get ahead against Eng­land in test

CityPress - - Sport - SIMNIKIWE XABANISA sports@city­press.co.za

Af­ter a tour of Eng­land char­ac­terised by de­feat thus far in the one-day in­ter­na­tion­als, T20s and the ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy, the Proteas got off to a none too promis­ing start in this week’s test se­ries at Lord’s.

Having al­lowed Eng­land to get off to a healthy start to the test (458 all out), Rus­sell Domingo’s men – who went into the game with­out reg­u­lar cap­tain Faf du Plessis – find them­selves with their backs to the wall with two days left in the game.

With Eng­land on 119/1 in the sec­ond in­nings, a lead of 216 with nine wick­ets re­main­ing af­ter dis­miss­ing the vis­i­tors for 361, it would ap­pear the best South Africa can hope for from this match is a draw, de­spite a spir­ited re­sponse to Eng­land’s first in­nings to­tal.

Af­ter wak­ing up to the knowl­edge that fast bowler Kag­iso Rabada would be banned for the sec­ond test at Trent Bridge for mouthing off at Ben Stokes af­ter dis­miss­ing him, the Proteas had to deal with all­rounder Ver­non Phi­lan­der not be­ing able to bowl for the ini­tial part of Eng­land’s sec­ond in­nings.

This was af­ter he was struck in the hand by James An­der­son while bat­ting to his half cen­tury ear­lier in the day. While X-rays re­vealed just bruis­ing, as op­posed to a frac­ture, it still meant he bowled none of the 51 overs sent down by his team-mates.

This al­lowed the lead, which was 97 when the Proteas were bowled out, to bal­loon to more than 200.

The Proteas need his skill as they look for the kind of luck that bor­ders on mirac­u­lous to turn this one around.

For all its gutsi­ness, the Proteas’ re­sponse was un­der­mined by a fail­ure by bats­men to kick on if the four un­con­verted half-cen­turies in the in­nings – Dean El­gar (54), Temba Bavuma (59), Quin­ton de Kock (51) and Phi­lan­der (52) – were any­thing to go by.

While not many would have ex­pected all­rounder Phi­lan­der, who must love the ground be­cause he gen­er­ally gets runs and wick­ets there, to con­vert his 50, that cer­tainly would be the case with the other three.

This is es­pe­cially so in the case of Bavuma and De Kock, who were re­spec­tively au­thor­i­ta­tive and bel­liger­ent enough to sug­gest a big knock was on the cards for ei­ther.

Bavuma looked com­fort­able in a typ­i­cal rear-guard ac­tion in­nings and De Kock, whose 51 came off 37 balls (10 fours), bat­ted with the kind of free­dom that gave no hint to the fact that the dry pitch had be­come un­even.

Sim­ply put, for the South Africans they had no Joe Root (190) to the Ben Stoke­ses (56), Moeen Alis (87) and Stu­art Broad­ses (57) with that one big score to un­der­pin the in­nings.

But, in all fair­ness to Eng­land, having put the runs on the board (458), they also bowled with great dis­ci­pline, with Ali the pick of the bowlers with his 4/59 – a haul that in­cluded three of the Proteas’ top five bats­men.

PHOTO: PETER CZIBORRA / REUTERS

SPORTS­MAN­SHIP Eng­land’s Joe Root shakes hands with South Africa’s Hashim Amla at the end of the in­nings yes­ter­day

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