SA get to tea unscathed but still a long 392 runs away

06 January 2020 - 15:51
By Khanyiso Tshwaku
Proteas wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock drops England's Ben Stokes during the fourth day at Newlands on January 6 2019.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES Proteas wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock drops England's Ben Stokes during the fourth day at Newlands on January 6 2019.

Mission one for the Proteas was to get to tea unscathed‚ which they did when Pieter Malan and Dean Elgar guided them to 46/0 at the break.

In what is a chase of record-breaking proportions with England's post-lunch declaration of 391/8 setting the hosts a ground and test record 438 to take a 2-0 series lead‚ SA are still a long 392 runs away.

They still have another 120 overs or four sessions to either negotiate a draw‚ attempt the impossible and overthrow the West Indies' 2003 effort of 418/7 against Australia‚ or give up and take a squared series to Port Elizabeth next week.

In such circumstances a loss is often the most likeliest scenario‚ especially with how South Africa have batted in the past year and the improbability of having to chase down such a tall total.

South Africa have overhauled 400 before in Perth 11 years ago when current director of cricket Graeme Smith‚ batting consultant Jacques Kallis‚ AB de Villiers and JP Duminy all put their shoulders to the wheel to chase down 414.

It's a different decade and a different era where SA's team don't quite have the quality in depth to mount an epic chase of that nature.

In that event‚ SA batted reasonably well after Ben Stokes' 75-minute pre-lunch assault set them firmly on the back foot.

The period was especially testing for Malan (23)‚ whose ability to leave the ball was thoroughly examined by James Anderson.

He survived that examination‚ but also faced another one from Sam Curran‚ whose left-arm medium fast was well placed to exploit the crack that worried right-handed batsmen.

Elgar (21) was also solid in defence‚ but faced some hairy moments from part-time leg-spinner Joe Denly‚ who turned the ball square in the rough that developed at the Wynberg End side of the pitch where the fast bowlers operated from.

Having faced 22 overs‚ crease occupation is the name of the game‚ but the bulk of the wickets in this game have fallen in the evening session.

If SA‚ whose openers showed the necessary care and diligence on a surface that's seemed to die down a fair bit after an electric opening two days‚ are able to bed down for another session‚ then the final day could be one for the ages.

However‚ the fourth evening has generally proven to be a graveyard for chasing teams while on the odd occasion‚ chases have been decided in the very same session.