Cricket 16.1.2018 02:56 pm

Proteas go negative in Centurion to keep India at bay

South Africa's batsman AB de Villiers takes a run during the fourth day of the second Test cricket match between South Africa and India at Supersport cricket ground on January 16, 2018 in Centurion, South Africa.  / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

South Africa's batsman AB de Villiers takes a run during the fourth day of the second Test cricket match between South Africa and India at Supersport cricket ground on January 16, 2018 in Centurion, South Africa. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Proceedings slow down to a crawl as the hosts try to set a viable target for the determined visitors.

The Proteas went negative and played the waiting game in the post-lunch session of day four in the second Test against India in Centurion.

Only 57 runs were scored in 27 overs as things virtually came to a standstill.

South Africa ended on 230/7, armed with a lead of 258.

The target would’ve surely been higher at the start of the day but India’s commendable determination means that the hosts will now aim for an advantage of 300.

Faf du Plessis, who’s faced 122 deliveries for a painstaking 37, and Vernon Philander (26 off 85) had batted for the bulk of session before dominant theme of match reared its head again: two wickets in quick succession.

The defensive mindset eventually caught up with Philander, who was too early on a pull and caught at square leg.

Keshav Maharaj (6) departed quickly thereafter.

The Proteas are caught in an interesting situation: there’s time to reach the 280-300 lead mark but will they take too long?

Or, will the negative mindset means wickets fall quickly again?

Morne Morkel on Monday evening confidently stated a target of 250 plus would be difficult to chase on the controversial SuperSport Park pitch but the prospect of an in-form Virat Kohli, who made 153 in the first innings, will make them wary.

Both sides will also keep AB de Villiers’ fine knock in mind.

The Proteas’ batting kingpin simply carried on from his overnight 50 to reach a superb 80.

De Villiers drove beautifully and punched crisply off the back foot as ten fours glided to the boundary in his 121-ball stay at the crease.

It took a freakish delivery from the impressive Mohammed Shami (3/42) to get rid of him.

Having playing the Indian seamer comfortably off the back foot, De Villiers tried to guide another short-of-a-length ball to third man but bounced late.

He could do nothing than fend to wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel.

Dean Elgar, who looked reasonably comfortable after a big struggle on Monday, will be kicking himself for pulling a long hop straight to KL Rahul at deep square.

His was dismissed for 60.

But if that felt torturous, nothing could beat Quinton de Kock’s five-ball stay.

The Proteas’ wicketkeeper was simply clueless.

First, he slashed a wide ball past slip without any foot movement.

Then he was squared up and edged between keeper and slip before getting a thick edge for a third boundary in a row.

Shami just looked on in frustration.

Yet the wily seamer didn’t give up and had his man the very next ball as De Kock prodded outside off.

The man is desperately out of form.

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