Maharaj game despite sorry state of SA's play

07 August 2017 - 09:50 By Telford Vice
Keshav Maharaj celebrates the wicket of England's Jonny Bairstow on July 17, 2017.
Keshav Maharaj celebrates the wicket of England's Jonny Bairstow on July 17, 2017.
Image: Reuters/Carl Recine

South Africa‚ in one form or another‚ have been in England since the middle of May. That’s almost a dozen weeks. Too long?

“We’ve spent a long time away from home‚ but what’s one more week‚” Keshav Maharaj said.

“We get to do something we love and the world is watching.”

Thing is‚ the world has seen South Africa lose the one-day series‚ bomb out of the Champions Trophy and go down in the T20 series. Now failure looms in the test series‚ too.

When rain ended the third day of the fourth test 17.4 overs early at Old Trafford on Sunday‚ England were 224/8 in their second innings for a lead of 360.

England would clinch the series with victory or even a draw. To avoid a full house of series defeats on their tour‚ South Africa must win.

That seems a long way away considering their highest total of the series so far is only one run more than the current deficit.

“That’s there to be broken — it can only get better from here‚” Maharaj said gamely.

He also waxed philosophical on the fact that South Africa grassed five catches on Sunday: one of them difficult‚ the others fiendishly so.

“You drop some catches and you take some blinders‚” Maharaj said.

One of those wasted opportunities — the most catchable‚ when Dean Elgar tumbled forward at slip but couldn’t hold the edge offered by Moeen Ali — came off Maharaj’s bowling.

Kagiso Rabada was the aggrieved bowler three times‚ Duanne Olivier the other.

Somehow‚ given all that‚ Olivier took 3/38 and Morne Morkel and Rabada claimed two wickets each.

South Africa’s first priority when play resumes‚ and assuming England don’t do the sensible thing and declare before that happens‚ will be to rid themselves of Moeen.

He has already clipped 67 off 59 balls with eight fours three sixes‚ and the way he batted on Sunday suggested there were plenty more where those came from.

Soon‚ though‚ the visitors will be batting. And on a pitch that will help Moeen’s off-spin.

“It’s starting to keep low and starting to turn viciously‚” Maharaj said.