Can Bavuma & de Kock subdue 4th innings struggle on a predicted wet weather day?

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safari
29 Dec 2021 | 08:40 PM
authorAnirudh Kasargod

Can Bavuma & de Kock subdue 4th innings struggle on a predicted wet weather day?

In four Centurion Tests since 2017, no match has gone into the second session of the fifth day

Jasprit Bumrah, you beauty! Every time when Virat Kohli has turned towards him, he has delivered something special and the fourth day was another instance. All the hard work done by Rassie van der Dussen and Dean Elgar in the last session of the day was undone by a beauty from Bumrah. To finish the day with an advantage, a Bumrah Yorker to Keshav Maharaj off the penultimate ball was the cherry on top.

This has been the case throughout this Test for South Africa. Apart from the 72-run partnership between Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock for the fifth wicket in the first innings, every now and then, when a partnership shaped for a big one, it was broken. But, the grit shown by Elgar in this innings can be an example for others as the stakes are on Temba Bavuma, Elgar and Quinton de Kock to bail them out.

Now that the night-watchman is out of the context before the start of day five, India will have a shot at the main batsmen with an immediate effect. With a bit of freshness in the pitch in the first session, rampaging Indian fast bowlers will be handful in the first hour. To go with it, the upcoming batsmen of South Africa, Bavuma, de Kock and Wiaan Mulder, none of these have a good record in the fourth innings, a worrying sign for the captain who is batting at the other end on an unbeaten 52.

De Kock, in his Test career, has averaged 20.9 in the fourth innings of a Test. Bavuma, the only half-centurion in the first innings, also has a below-par average of 26.5. Mulder, who is deemed as a proper all-rounder, has averaged 20. On the other hand, Indian bowlers, especially Bumrah and Mohammed Shami are specialists in the fourth innings. Bumrah has picked up wickets at a bowling strike rate of 41.2 and Shami has had a wicket every 39.5 balls.

Weather permit

More than Elgar and other batsmen, the one big thing that could stand in India’s way in breaching another fortress is the weather. At the start of the Test itself, there was a prediction of persistent rain on day two and day five. If those predictions come right as they did on day two, then there is a possibility of a wash-out on day five.

In any case, the weather is not as severe as it was on day two, where the precipitation was over 90 percent and the rain duration was over four hours. On day five, there is a 65 percent precipitation and two hours of rain predicted, and most of it is in the afternoon session. The start of the day is expected to be cloudy. If that is the case, then India will fancy their chance in the first session with overhead conditions.

A mountainous task

Irrespective of the weather predictions, South Africa have a daunting task ahead, if they are to win this Test or even a draw, they need to create history. In Tests in Centurion, never has a team chased a target of over 250. The highest being 251/8 (target was 249) by England in 2000, the most dramatic Test of all time (England forfeited their first innings and then South Africa did the same in their second innings). No matter what the result has been, the highest total posted by a team in the fourth innings at the venue was 268, again it was England in 2019. To spice it up, since 2017, in four Tests prior to this match, no match has gone into the second session of the fifth day.

In case South Africa look to bat out the overs, the maximum overs played by a team is 96 overs in the fourth innings in Centurion. Of course, with rain around, there is no guarantee of getting the full 98 overs (Extra half-hour).

Though the match is tilted more towards India, all three results are possible, if and only if, the weather permits.

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South Africa vs IndiaIndia tour of South Africa, 2021/22South AfricaIndiaDean ElgarQuinton de KockTemba BavumaWiaan MulderMohammed ShamiJasprit Bumrah

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