Faf du Plessis believes South Africa’s fourth innings credentials will give the Australian think tank a lot to worry about © Getty Images (File Photo)
Mar 4, 2014
Faf du Plessis believes memories of his marathon fourth innings knock in his debut Test match late 2012 in Adelaide, and other memorable fourth innings fightbacks by the World No 1 team will play on Australia’s minds, and they will be wary of batting for too long on Day Four of the ongoing third Test.
Australia will start the fourth day of the final Test on Tuesday at 27 for no loss, boasting of a lead of 234 runs. The visitors bowled out the home team within 83 overs on day three, for 287. They did have the option of enforcing follow-on upon the hosts, but Michael Clarke decided against it.
“I think we were always going to bat for a bit. I don’t think we were going to enforce the follow-on at all,” Mitchell Johnson said to the Sydney Morning Herald, on the basis of Australia’s belief the Newlands pitch “is starting to play a few tricks, a bit up and down”.
“We really need to score some runs now. We want to use that hard ball because we know they’re going to reverse (-swing) the ball as well”, the Australian speedstar added.
In the first Test of this series, Australia comfortably dismissed South Africa in the second innings in Centurion within 73 overs to win with a day to spare. Nevertheless, the visitors will not be over-confident of coasting to victory in Cape Town because of the Proteas’ record of regularly surviving long stints in the fourth innings of a match.
The match which du Plessis wants the Australians to remember is the November 2012 Test in Adelaide against Australia. In that match, Australia set Proteas a target of 430 to win the match. While they never threatened to do so, but their ability to survive for 148 overs, thanks largely to du Plessis’ 110 not out from 376 balls on debut, secured a draw changed the course of the series, as South Africa went on to win the next Test and the series.
Clarke declared 12 overs after lunch in that match, effectively giving his bowlers four and a half session to bowl out the Proteas, a task they fell two wickets short of completing. du Plessis predicted Clarke would “go more on the aggressive side” in his declaration decision.
“We’re a little bit behind the eight-ball at the moment. Australia has played some good cricket in this Test match, so they deserve to be in front of us at the moment. In saying that though, it’s always tricky in the third innings. You don’t quite know what a good total to set is. If you bat for too long you take time out of the game and if you bat for a short period of time, you give us a chance of chasing it down,” he addded.
“We’ve been pretty good in fourth innings of late, whether we get close or bat out time.
“It’s a tricky one for them, for us it’s important now to not lose the game. We’re a very proud nation and it’s very important for us not to lose this series.”
While Johnson wasn’t a part of that match in 2012, he referred to it in his expectations for the final two days of this third Test. “It’s an Adelaide-type of wicket. We’ve played them there, they did a pretty good job last time keeping us out,” he said.
“I don’t know how much time we need — maybe five sessions would be really nice — but it depends how many runs we can get.
“We’re really keen tomorrow to put some runs on the board early, have a good run-rate like we did in the first innings and really push the game forward and push hard to win”, Johnson concluded.