Hashim Amla remained unbeaten on 157 on Day Three © Getty Images
Hashim Amla remained unbeaten on 157 on Day Three © Getty Images

South Africa’s dwindling fortunes had copped a massive blow when England handed out a 241-run thrashing in the first Test at Durban. After all, the Kingsmead ground at Durban has been one of the favourite hunting grounds for South Africa, but their misery against England was meant to continue. South Africans have been grappling with issues far too many, and there were fears that the ever-growing list of worries on and off the field would eventually weigh down the top-ranked Test side. However, that was not meant to be. South Africa still had their best men, and it really was about matter of time that they would step up. Live Cricket Scorecard: South Africa vs England, 2nd Test at Cape Town

In hindsight, the tour of India in which South Africans were handed a 3-0 score line by a rampant home side was important. Because it shook the system in the South African ranks, it showed them how vulnerable they were without their frontmen. South Africa have not really been able to fill in the blanks with appropriate selections, andfor long, their fortunes have depended heavily on how few of their batsmen and bowlers have performed. This tendency of depending on few of their men has been far-stretched, and its negative effects were witnessed in India.

With all their key batsmen — Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis — rising up to the occasion in the ongoing second Test against England, one thing has become clear: South Africa may take a breather after few very tough months that they have had in Test cricket, and can focus on the immediate task of stopping England for now. The manner in which the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy 2015-16 began, it looked like South Africans will continue disintegrating and England will take the opportunity of beating the world No. 1 side in their backyard.

The troika of South African batting, which carries all hopes, had shown tremendous character in the fourth Test at Delhi against India. Knowing that they were familiar with Indian conditions, it should have happened earlier in the series. But the ‘blockathon’ on the last two days of a sapping, long tour, once again told us about the character that these men possess.

Surprisingly, the Durban Test proved to be a blip, as well as a huge dent in the South African confidence. The pitch had no demon, and England were without James Anderson. Still, South Africa ceded to England because of their no-show — just like against India — which luckily for them remained confined only to one Test.

Unlike other teams, especially India, South Africa are not known for struggling for long. They always tend to find ways out of troubles, and the same was expected against England. Unfortunately for the hosts, it took some time for them to find their feet. But now that they are back, the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy 2015-16 has finally started to live up to the expectations.

All thanks to Amla and company. The right-handed batsman, whose ‘disinterest’ in captaincy was being portrayed more than the realistic issues, bounced back in trademark style. Amla dug deep, did not give England any room and proved that the flat deck at Cape Town remained excellent for batting. Somewhere along the line, England would have thought about trouncing South Africa by an innings, but these thoughts were put to rest by Amla, who first combined with de Villiers to bat for 68.4 overs adding 183, and then with du Plessis for adding another unbeaten 85 from 36.3 overs.

England may still be ahead by 276 runs and having a strong chance of winning this game, but it is for sure that South African batsmen have rediscovered their mojo. All thanks to Amla, and the other two pillars in de Villiers and du Plessis.

(DevarchitVarma is senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)