Proteas must find their bearings and quickly

BANGALORE — “RAIN, rain…” a cheerleader’s voice shrilled from the loudspeakers at the M Chinnaswamy stadium here yesterday. A crowd of a good few thousand delivered a knee-jerk reply, “Go away!”

Sadly for the die-hard spectators in the stands and for India, the rain was still falling when play on day two of the second Test was abandoned at the scheduled tea interval.

Not that SA will be unhappy that significant time has drained out of the match, what with the home side 80/0 in reply to their first innings of 214.

More time could yet be lost. Yesterday’s forecast was for an 80% chance of rain. Today’s is 100%.

India’s plan is to bat big and bat once, as articulated yesterday by their bowling coach, Bharat Arun: “We will try to put up a very good score. We need a high total to be in the driver’s seat.”

To shift the home side into the back seat, SA will have to break the speed limit in dismissing them — and then fill up with high-octane runs. Only then could they think of putting pedal to the metal in a surge for victory.

But that is a long way down a pot-holed road. For now, Hashim Amla’s team would do well to shift gears and bowl and bat responsibly enough to keep India buckled up in the passenger seat while they nurse their misfiring car to a draw.

That done, they could at least set off for the third Test in Nagpur with the robot flashing the amber of a 0-1 series deficit rather than red: there is no winning a four-match rubber from 2-0 down.

Kyle Abbott no doubt has mixed feelings about all that. Yes, he wants to show what he can do after being called up as an emergency replacement for Vernon Philander and his football injury. No, he doesn’t mind the bonus downtime to help him get his head around exactly what he has been parachuted into.

When Abbott’s phone rang in Durban early on Thursday morning, the last thing he would have expected was to be en route to Johannesburg minutes later. So much so that he only got the chance to brush his teeth once he had arrived at OR Tambo International.

While he was there, his phone rang again. It was David Miller: “Howzit ‘Abbo’. We’re going to the beach. Wanna come?”

Perhaps between rinses, Abbott might have said: “I’d love to, bru, but something’s come up.”

Abbott shared the new ball with Morné Morkel on Saturday, and while he did not bowl as might have been feared for a man freshly alighted from a long-haul flight, he also did not script the “fairytale” that Amla had hoped for on Friday.

Then again, none of SA’s bowlers seemed to know how to get out of the parking lot in the 22 overs they bowled — although Morkel did have a catch dropped. Best SA fix their GPS, because if play resumes sooner rather than later they are going to have to drive this match like they stole it.



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