While the Proteas executed their bowling plans excellently on day one of the Port Elizabeth Test, they need to wrap up the England innings quickly if they want to win this Test match. writes JOHN GOLIATH.
It was rather odd seeing debutant Dane Paterson taking the new ball alongside Vernon Philander ahead of Kagiso Rabada on the first morning of the Port Elizabeth after Faf du Plessis had lost yet another toss.
The reasoning behind it could have been to see if their is a bit if swing through the air, as their normally is a little something on the first morning in the Bay. It also may have had something to do with both Philander preferring to bowl from a specific end.
But, whatever the reasoning was, one has to feel that the prospect of facing the opposition’s premier fast bowler first up in the morning is probably a lot more daunting than facing a debutant. However, that was one few missteps by the Proteas, on a day where the home side had to work hard for their wickets.
They will need to do the same on Friday, as Ben Stokes again looked really dangerous, while Ollie Pope seems to be maturing with each passing innings in this series.
The Proteas bowled intelligently without a lot of luck on Thursday. You could see there were definite plans to the England batsmen, which were well executed by Du Plessis and his bowlers.
Keshav Maharaj was superb on Thursday, as he held up an end beautifully, while also looking quite threatening on a pitch that was taking a lot of turn on the opening day of the Test. The England batsmen managed to get on top of him in Newlands by frequently rotating the strike, while also using their feet to him him over the top.
But on Friday the Proteas need to make sure that they keep their patience, especially because Stokes will try and take the game forward with his aggressive style and intent.
Being patient is key at St George’s Park, because it’s a venue where wickets don’t tend to fall in clumps. You have to work hard and take those half chances when they come your way.
Stokes can take the game away from the opposition in a session, and the Proteas would ideally not want to lose some of the control they managed to get on day one. They will have to bat second on this pitch, which is likely to take a lot of spin later on.
Maharaj will be key again on Friday, as he already troubled Stokes with ball spitting out of the rough outside the England star’s off-stump.
This battle could set the tone for the rest of the match, as the winner could put their team in a wonderful position to go into the final Test 2-1 up.