SA have ‘mountain to climb’ to save test

Times Media

TELFORD VICE at Seddon Park

ADRIAN Birrell has been shot in this movie before, and he wasn’t about to let the credits roll in South Africa’s test series in New Zealand.

At stumps here on Tuesday, the fourth day of the third test, South Africa were 80/5 in their second innings.

They will resume on Wednesday needing 95 more runs to make new Zealand bat again, and they will hope like hell that Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock – who will resume, each not out on 15 – score all of those and then some.

“Once (New Zealand) got ahead of us by a hundred runs it was always going to be a fight for survival,” Birrell, South Africa’s assistant coach, said of New Zealand’s total of 489, which was built on Kane Williamson’s 176.

“But we’ve had these before – we will fight.

“We have a captain who is very determined and who has fought before.

“We haven’t lost yet. We are 95 runs behind and there are 98 overs tomorrow – we can fight it out.”

Du Plessis famously batted for almost eight hours on debut to score an undefeated 110 and save the Adelaide test in November 2012.

But while his defensive capabilities are not in question De Kock is an attacking player.

Did Birrell think he had what it will take to withstand the pressure?

“It’s not only about batting it out,” Birrell said. “The runs we accumulate will also be important.

“We’re looking for (De Kock) to score. If he goes defensive it’s probably the worst thing for him

“We will look to score; we won’t just stonewall it.”

And there was more where Du Plessis and De Kock came from, Birrell said.

“We’ve got two in form batsman, and Vernon (Philander) who is capable of a test hundred.

“Tomorrow is a good day for that.”

South Africa lost five wickets for 46 runs on Tuesday, a slump Birrell attributed to them spending almost 12 hours in the field in New Zealand’s.

“We toiled,” he said. “I don’t think we bowled badly – 162.1 overs is a long time to be in the field; it was a hard day.

“The players are fatigued and to bat on the back of that is always going to be difficult.

“We’ve got a mountain to climb.” 


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