Temba Bavuma says England will struggle to save the fourth Test by batting out the final day on a pitch with variable bounce.
South Africa took three crucial wickets in the final session on Monday to leave England on 52-3 and still 330 runs behind their target of 382.
‘The wicket was quite variable in terms of its bounce,’ Bavuma said. ‘The balls weren’t really coming on to the bat, some balls were bouncing higher than me. You had to show some bravery and guts out there. I took a few blows out there but you have to keep your head down and focus on the next ball.
‘Those were big wickets,’ he said of the three to fall late in the day. ‘Getting the wicket of Alastair Cook, their captain and a guy who leads from the front, is big. We would have loved to get Root as well but tomorrow we will be coming with our head high, firing on all cylinders and looking to finish off the game as soon as possible.’
Bavuma finished South Africa’s second innings 78 not out when AB de Villiers declared, but the team objective was more important than his personal milestone. He is the third-highest run-scorer for the Proteas this series with 248 runs behind Dean Elgar (284) and Hashim Amla (470).
‘The team game plan after tea was to bat a maximum of eight overs,’ he explained. ‘Whatever runs we managed to get in those eight overs was going to be that. Hashim took one for the team, he put aside his own personal glory and tried to get as many runs for the team, you can’t fault him on that.
‘We believe that the score we have set England is more than enough, especially on that wicket. We will be trying to exploit the variable bounce as much as possible.’
There was some good news for De Villiers with Kyle Abbott running in for an over despite a hamstring injury. Abbott will continue to receive treatment overnight and is likely to be able to contribute with a few overs on Tuesday.