Theunis de Bruyn grabbed the opportunity to fill the key No. 3 batting position on his sub-continent debut to keep the Proteas alive on the fourth day of the second Test match against Sri Lanka at Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo on Sunday.
His unbeaten 45 off 97 balls (7 fours) held the Proteas second innings together as they reached the close on 139/5 in pursuit of an improbable victory target of 490 to square the series. He still has Temba Bavuma for company with Quinton de Kock to follow so hopefully they will follow De Bruyn’s lead in taking some batting pride out of the series.
De Bruyn’s Test figures do not make for brilliant reading, but he has spent most of his short career filling in as a replacement for non-available players or plugging a hole when he was selected to open the batting on his debut Test match in New Zealand.
He does have a record in domestic cricket and for South Africa A in being able to bat long periods which is a prime requirement for batting on the sub-continent. He has also always been temperamentally strong.
The fact that he was given the No. 3 spot with Hashim Amla filling the AB hole at No. 4 must also be seen as significant and suggests that he will finally get an extended run in the home series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. At the age of 25 he is certainly one of the young South Africans to take the Proteas batting forward.
Sri Lanka only lost 5 wickets in their second innings before making the declaration, but it nevertheless gave Keshav Maharaj the opportunity to take a further wicket and become the seventh South African to take 12 or more wickets in a Test match and the third spinner to do this after Hugh Tayfield and Bert Vogler.