• Amla calls for big improvement

    Hashim Amla says it’s time his side played like the No 1-ranked team they are when the third Test against India starts on Wednesday in Nagpur.

    A win for the Proteas will not only keep the series alive heading into the last match in Delhi next week, but will also preserve the Proteas’ nine-year unbeaten record away from home.

    ‘We haven’t played our best Test cricket,’ Amla said to the media in Nagpur on Tuesday. ‘If you look back to Mohali, I’d say we were in the game for three innings of the four. If India got bowled out for 200 and us for 187 it’s a fair reflection that the game was well poised up until the last day, which we didn’t do too well in.

    ‘On the first day of the last Test we didn’t bat well at all so we haven’t put in free-flowing Test cricket performances that we are used to. It will be great for a start if in Nagpur we can get on to the field and put in the performances that the South African team is used to.’

    Amla commended his squad’s focus and energy in their preparation leading up to the match, after a frustrating period of down time brought on by the rain in Bengaluru. The dry conditions at the VCA Stadium could open up the possibility of playing the extra spin option, but Amla still banked on his pace resources despite Dale Steyn’s unavailability after failing a fitness test.

    ‘Though the spinners have taken most of the wickets on the sub-continent, but Dale’s record here is phenomenal, there is nobody better than him,’ Amla said.

    ‘The seamers who are going to play definitely have a role and certainly our spinners are growing and getting better and better.

    ‘We are 1-0 down so it is certainly a must-win match for us to stay in the series. It does allow us to play with risk but that is the mentality that we came here with, we came here to win the series. In the first match we had five frontline bowlers and for me that’s an attacking option, we need to take 20 wickets to win the Test match.’

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