Temba Bavuma believes the batsmen have the resolve and temperament to save the fourth Test against India on Monday.
The Proteas will have to withstand at least 90 overs on the final day with eight wickets in hand, but will hold on to the belief after Hashim Amla (23 off 207 balls) and AB de Villiers (11 off 91 balls) absorbed the pressure to see out stumps on day four.
‘It’s a tough ask, asking guys to bat 90 overs,’ the 25-year-old said. ‘It will be day five, so we expect the wicket to deteriorate even more. But we have the experience, we have the skills, so whatever happens, we will go down fighting.
‘You see Hash there, he’s laid down his mark. AB is also still there, we still have Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and Dane Vilas, so we will definitely carry on the spirit and try our best to salvage a draw out of this game.’
Most of the remaining batsmen are all familiar with the patience and attrition required for a match-saving ‘blockathon’, and will need to curb their natural attacking instincts to pull off what would go down as one of the most famous heists in South Africa’s history.
‘Maybe it was something they [India] weren’t expecting,’ he said of the team strategy. ‘We did sit down as a batting unit before the second innings and came up with the best way forward. We spoke about how we are going to try and tackle the challenge.
‘I am always trying to score and be positive against spinners. Having to go against that was the toughest thing, going against your natural instincts as a batter is the toughest part. Understanding that the main thing here is time, not the runs. So batting time, especially for a young, inexperienced guy like me, that is tough.’
Bavuma, who is opening for the first time in his 80-match first-class career, was at the crease for 43 overs for his 117-ball 34, and along with his encouraging 22 in the first innings, has shown potential qualities to make the opening slot his own.
‘I am keen to do more of the opening job,’ he said. ‘I always pride myself as a team player, so wherever the opportunity is, or wherever the team needs me to fulfil a role, I will do it. So if I am asked to bat No 7, or I am asked to open, I will do that as well.
‘To be honest, that was the toughest piece of batting I’ve ever had to do in my life. I always try to be positive, always look to score runs. I was put in a situation where scoring runs wasn’t the priority, but the amount of time you batted out there was the key thing. I can take out a lot of positives from my batting experience, and hopefully I can grow from that.’