A draw will be a good result for South Africa in the third Test against India in Nagpur.
The approach of South Africa’s batsmen in this series has been wrong, and while you can forgive them for struggling on a dust bowl during the first Test in Mohali, the same excuse can’t be used for South Africa first and only innings in the second Test.
Let’s accept that the pitch for the first Test was out of the ordinary so you can’t blame the batsmen too much for failing against a trio of good spinners. However, there was no excuse for being bowled out for 214 in the second Test.
The batsmen have been too impatient, but you don’t have to be impatient in Test cricket. The batsmen’s job is to get runs by spending time at the crease. The batsmen have been guilty of using risky shots to get boundaries rather than play sensible cricket. I think ODI cricket has played a role in this mental approach, but you can’t do that in Test cricket.
Instead of playing risky shots to get boundaries because you have grown impatient, batsmen should rather focus on taking advantage of bad balls. In Test cricket your job is not to score boundaries but to score runs by occupying the crease.
When you take advantage of the bad ball, you don’t have to take risks. That is what AB de Villiers has done so well in India and why he is the only batsmen who has been successful. AB has the right mentality (and talent) in those conditions.
Simply put, South Africa have no other option – they have to play better cricket in Nagpur.
I won’t risk Dale Steyn if he is still struggling for fitness a day or two before the game. I would pick Marchant de Lange ahead of Kyle Abbott because that extra pace will be worth more on the pitches in India.
South Africa have an opportunity to draw the series, which will be a good result, but they will have to be mentally strong. I just wonder who’s going to take the 20 wickets necessary to win a Test.