Proteas in charge

2014-02-22 23:00

It is almost impossible to keep good men down and if there is one thing that invigorates the bearded master that is Hashim Amla, it is batting in the third innings.

His measured 28th test half-century, his first score of 50 or more since his 118 against Pakistan in October, put the Proteas in a strong position to force a win.

At stumps today, Hash was looking good on an unbeaten 93.

When the sun decided to make a grand appearance, it had a warming and resonant effect on the Proteas bowlers, who finally decided to make their presence felt in the series.

Clearly scarred by the events of a week ago in Centurion, they shed their “bunch of losers” tag and reminded the visitors who’s the test cricket boss with a quixotic but ultimately commanding performance.

Whatever South Africa set to chase sometime tomorrow, Australia will have to steel themselves for the highest run chase at South Africa’s oldest test ground. If history is anything to go by, there are two things Michael Clarke’s team and Australian test sides do not do well in general: chasing big totals and saving games.

Because of an electric four-run per over scoring rate, time to bowl out a misfiring Australian batting line-up has been made.

It will be a case of when the declaration comes because tomorrow’s weather forecast, as unpredictable as Port Elizabeth is known to be, is not good with a 70% chance of thundershowers predicted. Timing is everything, especially with the westerly wind drying out what has been a slow and low pitch with consistent bounce.

Most of the things the Proteas got horribly wrong in Pretoria were examined and corrected with thorough precision, except the catching department, where they continued to be butterfingered.

Fortunately for them, it did not work out to be that costly as Australian batsmen found ways to throw their wickets away. Firstly, they batted for 150 overs in their first innings and ensured the life was slowly sucked from the fiery Australian attack.

With a total of more than 400, scoreboard pressure was applied, which gave the bowlers the opportunity to bowl to their attacking strengths with more freedom.

While not very accurate as Australia batted quickly, the bowling was hostile and the execution of short balls was with an intensity that was missing in the first test. Aside from buccaneering knocks from David Warner and Steven Smith, none of the Australian

batsmen looked like they were keen on doing crease time as the baggy greens only batted for 57 overs. With Wayne Parnell almost certainly not going to bowl in the second innings because of a groin strain, the rest was needed and well deserved.

South African wickets fell regularly in the second innings even though they scored at a high rate.

Despite travelling to the boundary regularly, the Australian bowlers hardly flagged, with the tireless Peter Siddle being especially impressive. Australia’s batting, which has finally been exposed as fraudulent, will have to front up again.

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