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Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
6 Jan 2020
5:58 pm

Old school rules as new cap Malan heads Proteas’ fight

Heinz Schenk

The experienced 30-year-old opener plays the perfect knock for hosts' difficult situation in the second Test as England hold sway.

South Africa's Pieter Malan (R) celebrates after scoring a half-century (50 runs) as umpire Paul Reiffel (L) look on during the fourth day of the second Test cricket match between South Africa and England at the Newlands stadium in Cape Town on January 6, 2020. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI / AFP)

The term “Old School” was never far from anyone’s lips during the fourth day of the second Test between the Proteas and England at Newlands on Monday.

In an era where attention-starved cricket consumers want endless entertainment, this series has already been refreshingly old-fashioned.

Indeed, it’s all been about grit, discipline and determination.

South Africa still can’t say they’re in a position of safety, but they certainly can argue that their chances of survival going into the final day look less bleaker, ending on 126/2 in a mammoth chase of 438.

Much of that fight was down to the dogged Pieter Malan.

The Cobras opener showcased all the strengths that has made him such a successful player on the franchise circuit in his unbeaten 63 off 193 deliveries.

Malan is a man who can bat in a bubble – though it’s felt like a bomb shelter here – and his hand here has been perfect – the Proteas’ batting line-up remains starved of confidence and that tends to make any unit lose wickets even when a pitch isn’t all that treacherous.

The 30-year-old illustrated one can have a balance, where grim defence is mixed with a steady gathering of runs.

He only hit two fours, one of them off the first ball of the final innings, before settling in and making England doubt if this surface will give them enough to force a win.

Malan received good support in a 71-run opening stand with Dean Elgar (34), who’ll argue he was unlucky to be given out caught behind off the part-time leg-spin of Joe Denly after DRS showed a faint, maybe even dodgy little spike on Ultra-Edge.

Cobras teammate Zubayr Hamza looked destined to carry on the fight with him on the final day, but he was undone by the indomitable James Anderson, who found the edge with a beauty, one that just managed to reverse enough.

It was a breakthrough that will embolden the visitors.

England dominated for most of the day, with their own old-schooler – 24-year-old Dom Sibley – crafting a maiden Test century on the back of neglected values such as patience.

His unbeaten 133 off 311 deliveries was well deserved.

But the right-hander also had it quite easy later on as the South African attack looked alarmingly flat.

It allowed Ben Stokes to delight a healthy crowd with a swashbuckling 75 off just 47 deliveries, thoroughly demoralising the home side in the field.

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