First innings hero Keegan Petersen admits SA have it all to do

Keegan Petersen during his innings of 72 in SA's first innings against India at Newlands.
Keegan Petersen during his innings of 72 in SA's first innings against India at Newlands.
Image: REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

The inconvenient truth facing the Proteas in the remainder of their Test series against India is that they, in every sense, will be doing the chasing.

They relinquished what appeared to be a potential advantage in the third and deciding Test, by falling 13 runs short of India's modest first innings of 223 at Newlands on Wednesday. It hasn't just given the tourists the advantage on the scoreboard but Virat Kohli's team can go about their second innings in the knowledge SA are likely to find the going even harder when they come to the crease on a deteriorating wicket the second time round.

India, who enjoy an overall lead of 70, will resume their second innings on 57/2 on Thursday.

The Proteas' first innings top scorer Keegan Petersen admitted his team now has it all to do and pointed to the need for an assertive start on day three of a Test that now looks unlikely to go the distance.

“We are a bit behind the eight-ball now going into day three. If we pick up a few early wickets tomorrow [Thursday] morning, it'll be key,” admitted Petersen.

The SA attack will have to make inroads into a batting line-up of whom the three most senior players are desperate to roll back the clock and reclaim their lofty status in the game.

Captain Kohli who compiled a watchful 79 in the first innings, has already set about that task, while Cheteshwar Pujara, who will resume the innings with him, has also showed signs that he may be emerging from the doldrums.

“The two batting now have been a bit of a headache for us in the last couple of innings. But if we get a few wickets, that'll be brilliant,” said Petersen.

Of course, SA would not be in this position had they batted with greater resolve in their first stint at the crease. Some batsmen, including Petersen received deliveries that were too hot to handle but there were others who will reflect on shots that contributed to their demise. In the case of opener Aiden Markram, no shot was played at all.

“Yeah, I think we sold ourselves a bit short on runs. If we could pass the deficit and have a bit of the lead, we would've been happy,” said Petersen.

“So that was the plan coming into the day, to bat long and get as much as we can and pass the deficit.

“I don't know. It's not for lack of trying. It's just eluding us at the moment,” lamented Petersen.

SA will, however, draw comfort from their heroic fourth innings chase at the Wanderers last week when they levelled the series in the face of the odds.


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