What Proteas needs to do to square the series

Dean Elgar of South Africa during the International Test Series 2019/20 match between South Africa and England at Imperial Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg on 24 January 2020.
Dean Elgar of South Africa during the International Test Series 2019/20 match between South Africa and England at Imperial Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg on 24 January 2020.
Image: ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

What started so nicely for the Proteas at the Boxing Day Test at SuperSport Park has now evolved into a struggle to save the series.

South Africa won the first Test comfortably‚ but England's resilience and skill has seen them take a 2-1 lead after resounding wins in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

Here's what South Africa need to do to square the series:

Take down England's spinners

There's nothing remotely world class about Dom Bess and Joe Root.

In Port Elizabeth‚ South Africa's batsmen made them look like Asian spinners on dustbowls.

Granted‚ England's long first innings gave them enough of an opportunity to have the pitch baked by the hot sun and SA's bowlers.

Bess and Root took 10 of the 20 wickets that fell in Port Elizabeth‚ making a mockery of SA's batsmen.

Wanderers is traditionally not friendly for spinners and should Bess play‚ SA's batsmen‚ regardless of whether they're low on confidence‚ need to target Bess if he plays and Root should he turn his arm over.

Also their pacemen

James Anderson may be injured and out for the series‚ but in Stuart Broad‚ they have a fast bowler of serious skill‚ experience and the know-how of bowling at the Wanderers.

Mark Wood and Jofra Archer‚ who are set to play in tandem for the first time‚ are fast but less skilled.

Wood bowled with extreme pace in PE and unsettled South Africa's batsmen‚ something Archer did in Centurion with less success.

Before they attempt to takedown England's pace bullets‚ SA's batsmen will have to find the relevant self belief and confidence to attack England's pace bowlers.

It's not impossible‚ but to drive the game like they did in Centurion‚ the ultra fast bowlers must be dealt with decisively.

Runs and more runs from Du Plessis

It's not inconceivable that Du Plessis may not been in whites again at home for the Proteas after this Test.

That's all the more reason for him to put together match-winning and series-tying runs.

It's true that his batting struggles in the last nine innings have had an impact on the team‚ but he has the perfect opportunity to possibly sign off as best as he could.

He was composed and probably looked the best he's been since his ton against Pakistan last year‚ but that didn't translate to much for South Africa in the second innings.

Keshav Maharaj and Dane Paterson displayed the positivity that was missing from the top-order.

SA's top-order batting‚ as diffident as it has been‚ could take a leaf from their lower order's book.

Time to convert for Quinton de Kock

Between his three brainfades in the six innings in the series‚ De Kock has been SA's best batsman.

He's scored a 50 in each Test and barring the first Test‚ where his 95 was enough to wrest the initiative from England in the first Test‚ his other unconverted 50's have played a role in SA losing those Tests.

It wasn't squarely his own fault‚ but a ton at Newlands would've probably saved the Test.

Had he converted in PE‚ SA would have at least come close to saving the follow on‚ if not scoring more than 299.

As things stand‚ there hasn't been a hundred from SA's batsmen and all of them‚ especially De Kock‚ is long overdue one.

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