Boucher refuses to rule out Proteas win at Newlands

Mark Boucher (Gallo)
Mark Boucher (Gallo)

Cape Town - The Proteas do not look far from being dead and buried in the second Test against England at Newlands, but coach Mark Boucher is refusing to rule out the possibility of an unlikely victory. 

After three days, England have manufactured a lead of 264 with six second-innings wickets remaining and two full days to play ahead.

It means that, if the Proteas are to pull off a stunning win, they will almost certainly need to chase down a fourth-innings target in excess of 300 and possibly even better Australia's 334/6 that won them the 2nd Test against South Africa back in 2002 at the same venue. 

Boucher played in that match, but he was also part of the Proteas side that scored 414/4 to beat Australia in Perth in 2008. 

The wicket, of course, will have a huge say in what transpires over the next two days, but South Africa's new man in charge was full of fighting talk after Sunday's play.

"After the first two days I would have said that we didn't want to chase anything more than 250 but having a look at the way the wicket played today, it did flatten out quite a bit," he said.

"Our backs are up against it, let's be honest. But if we come out tomorrow and we've got a new ball in our hands and we use it well, then we believe we can pick up quick wickets.

"If we can chase anything around 330 or 340, that would be great. It's still going to be a tall ask, but if one or two batters get in there and get stuck in then we have to keep believing that a couple of our batters can get one or two big hundreds and give ourselves a chance.

"There is a Test match up for grabs."

The more likely scenario is that England will bat until the game is beyond the Proteas, leaving themselves enough time to take 10 wickets and force the hosts to play for a draw. 

That, at this point, would be a huge result for South Africa as it would leave them 1-0 up in the series with Tests in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg to come. 

"There are times in teams when the characters have to come out and we've got characters in that dressing room," Boucher added.

"We do understand that our batters are under pressure because they probably haven't made the runs they would have wanted to, but if we can bowl them out and maybe look at a total worth chasing then we must do that. We will always want to go for a win.

"Good teams also manage to block out draws, so depending on the situation and how well we bowl tomorrow, then we can maybe go for a chase. If not, then we will have to bat it out for a day and a half."

It would be a seismic test for a new-look top order that includes the inexperience of Pieter Malan, Zubayr Hamza and Rassie van der Dussen, while skipper Faf du Plessis has also been far from his best in this series. 

Boucher, though, believes. 

"You don't chase big totals like that without partnerships, and if one or two of our guys can bat long and get hundreds, then we can start looking at totals like that," he said.

"It would be a great statement, but more about what it would do for the confidence of the players."

Play on Monday will start at 10:30, and before the Proteas can think about chasing down a target, they will have to be far more effective with the ball and get the last six English wickets as quickly as possible. 

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