Proteas bats­men need to keep time with AB

Ash­win had a great laugh re­mind­ing El­gar that he isn’t in Joburg

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - LUN­GANI ZAMA

DEAN EL­GAR al­ready knows that his slog-sweep straight af­ter yes­ter­day morn­ing’s drinks break was ill-judged. What he wouldn’t have known is that YouTube helped in his demise, on a day that ended with the Proteas 142 runs be­hind In­dia, who still have eight sec­ondin­nings wick­ets in hand.

In­dia’s best bowler, Ravichan­dran Ash­win, has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing just a lit­tle bit on the cocky side. You can’t call a man with five wick­ets in the bag – and a wear­ing pitch to work with in the sec­ond dig – ar­ro­gant, but Ash­win wouldn’t care less if you did any­way.

The lanky tweaker, whose 5/51 saw South Africa bowled out for 184, was in full-on, chest thump­ing mode last night, as he looked back on a strong show­ing from the hosts at the IS Bin­dra Sta­dium.

“I had a great time watch­ing Dean El­gar bat­ting on YouTube (on Thurs­day), and I knew that shot was com­ing,” Ash­win said. As he ran past El­gar, In­dia’s ace had a short speech pre­pared: “I told him that this wasn’t Joburg. I knew he was go­ing to play that shot.”

The “Joburg” ref­er­ence was telling the South African opener that he was now in Ash­win’s house, a long way from home. In the con­text of the match, it was a hor­ri­ble shot, es­pe­cially af­ter El­gar ( 37) and cap­tain Hashim Amla (43) had added 76 for the third wicket, look­ing in con­trol.

The pitch, which had been the sub­ject of heated dis­cus­sion and de­ri­sion the night be­fore, played fairly well. So while El­gar may ar­gue that the shot was on, it al­lowed In­dia to wres­tle back con­trol of a sit­u­a­tion that they were start­ing to get wor­ried about.

“I’ve seen Dean go aerial a lot of times, and suc­cess­fully,” Proteas spin coach Claude Hen­der­son said. “He plays the shot well and some­times go­ing aerial is not a bad op­tion, es­pe­cially when the field is up.”

But it was the much-fan­cied “inand-out field” with equal parts pro­tec­tion and pre­da­tion that faced El­gar. He knew he was a goner straight away, and bowed his head in shame. At the other end, Amla grafted to 43, but was de­ceived in the flight by Ash­win and stumped off the chest of Wrid­dhi­man Saha.

Aside from El­gar, Amla and De Vil­liers, none of South Africa’s bats­men got to dou­ble fig­ures, some play­ing har­vest heaves be­fore they had even laid a seed of graft into the Mo­hali soil.

Mo­hali saw two ver­sions of De Vil­liers yes­ter­day. The first man lasted 21 balls, gath­ered seven runs – and al­most as many ap­peals for leg-be­fore – as he scratched and poked at the fizzing ball.

By the time he fell for 63, his sec­ond dig had re­alised 56 off 62 balls, and put In­dia on the back foot. The Proteas will need him to keep bat- ting in this au­thor­i­ta­tive vein, and the rest of the bats­men to fol­low suit.

“It won’t get eas­ier. Hon­estly, it is ex­cit­ing for me to see spin take so many wick­ets, but our bats­men will ob­vi­ously say it’s not a good wicket,” Hen­der­son said. “If we have to chase any­thing be­yond 300, then it be­comes re­ally dif­fi­cult, be­cause the big­ger the score, the more catch­ers you can carry (around the bat).

“The one good thing is that there is a lot of time left in the game. Our pace bowlers are ca­pa­ble of amaz­ing things, so I wouldn’t go easy if I was In­dia.”

Those who know bet­ter will have al­ready ad­mon­ished them­selves, but those new to all this will have to learn – in a hurry – that time, more than any­thing else is key in In­dia.

But it’s now on In­dia’s watch. The man­ner in which Chetesh­war Pu­jara and Mu­rali Vi­jay went about their sec­ond, cru­cial al­liance in this match, showed that this pitch is not all de­mons and de­spair.

Sure they are not fac­ing the peer­less Ash­win, who boasted that he could have had De Vil­liers at any­time, but they still played every­thing on its mer­its. The Proteas also missed their bowl­ing tal­is­man, Dale Steyn, who has a groin strain that looks likely to pre­vent him from bowl­ing again in the match.

Ver­non Phi­lan­der, lead­ing the at­tack, helped Shikhar Dhawan com­plete a mis­er­able pair, be­fore Pu­jara and Vi­jay added 86.

It took a mo­ment of bril­liance from Steyn’s su­per- sub, Temba Bavuma, who leapt full length at short-leg, to snare a starled Vi­jay (47) off Im­ran Tahir.


HELLO AND GOOD­BYE: Wrid­dhi­man Saha stumps Proteas cap­tain Hashim Amla for 43 at the IS Bin­dra Sta­dium yes­ter­day. In­dia re­sumed play to­day on 125/2.

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