On the bright side for SA?

2011-12-29 00:00

CAPE TOWN — A tendency to perform significantly better in their second innings at Kingsmead after a bungled first will be keeping embattled South Africa hopeful of not losing the second Test to Sri Lanka.

There had understandably been much debate around the Proteas’ mounting Test match jinx at the Durban venue — to some extent it applies to major one-day tournaments as well — but less discussed has been their post-isolation habit of batting considerably better in their second turn at the crease there — and the match’s fourth knock — after a putrid first innings.

This tendency to bat better in the second innings undoubtedly applies to this contest, with Graeme Smith’s team succumbing for a record low 168 against Sri Lanka and surrendering a damaging advantage to the tourists of 170 runs even before the visitors set about their second knock.

Nevertheless, whatever they are eventually set as a victory target at Kingsmead, South Africa should take some heart from their recent record of being much more resilient there when they bat again.

Two instances against Australia, a stronger outfit each time than they are in this time of uncertainty and transition, spring to mind.

The most recent was in March 2009 when the Proteas were set a highly unlikely 546 to win, thanks mainly to their own ineptitude in the first innings when they were rolled for 138.

But at least, even in defeat, they posted an infinitely more respectable 370 batting last, occupying the crease for 132 overs — effectively for a day and a half.

Jacques Kallis scored 93 and AB de Villiers also held the fort gallantly for his 84.

The previous occasion was in a famous series whitewash-avoiding victory against the Baggy Greens in 2001/02, when they chased down a target of 335 for the loss of only five wickets. That 340 for five total also remains the most successful fourth-knock chase in all Tests at the ground.

That great effort was highlighted by Herschelle Gibbs’s century (104) and his opening stand of 142 with South African coach Gary Kirsten, and it came against an attack boasting such legends as Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Shane Warne.

Again, the South African first innings had been awful — 167 all out.

As has almost always been the case at Kingsmead, with its delightful vagaries and superstitions, the weather for the remainder of this match could play an important role in deciding which side wins — or indeed whether the Proteas are capable of stonewalling effectively enough for a stalemate if the target proves just too steep for them.

The general principle in Durban is that if the sun shines for significant periods, batting conditions can be favourable even if the game is at a fairly advanced stage.

As Hashim Amla pointed out, the overnight and early morning rain that delayed the start may have the effect of “binding” the pitch rather than hastening its break-up and the attached danger of variable bounce.

Several of the SuperSport commentators seemed to think that chasing down 350 was not beyond the Proteas, although anything above that does look a particularly tall order.

Also to consider is that although there is plenty of time left in the Test, on paper at least, the light is always an issue at Kingsmead — especially in final sessions, so there may be much less cricket left than some people realise.

The Proteas getting off the hook by not losing, and thus going to Cape Town for the final Test still 1-0 to the good, remains a very feasible possibility. But there is no disputing the fact that Sri Lanka remain easily the happier side to be in as things stand.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.