Fighting knock: Playing in his first Test, Pieter Malan plays a shot in his innings of 84 as England keeper Jos Buttler Dom Sibley look on during the fifth day at Newlands on Tuesday. Picture: Marco Longari/AFP
Fighting knock: Playing in his first Test, Pieter Malan plays a shot in his innings of 84 as England keeper Jos Buttler Dom Sibley look on during the fifth day at Newlands on Tuesday. Picture: Marco Longari/AFP

As a former Western Province star who thrived in New Year’s Tests in the past‚ Proteas batting consultant Jacques Kallis took special pleasure in Pieter Malan’s fighting second innings knock on Monday.

There was still a fair bit the 30-year-old from Nelspruit needed to do on day five‚ but his 84 gave the Proteas a glimmer of hope in terms of saving the second Test.

Kallis had a fair number of Newlands tussles with England and other opponents in New Year’s Tests in the past.

Most of the time he got on top on them, but in this case‚ it was England who held all the aces with the eight wickets they needed to square the series and win the first Test at this ground since 1957.

Kallis admired the fight shown by Malan‚ whose first Test came after 148 first-class games. “It was the fight that he showed today.

“It’s his first Test‚ but he’s played like he’s got a lot under the belt. He knows his game pretty well from the number of firstclass runs he has scored. I was very impressed with the fight that he showed and he played the situation perfectly‚” Kallis said.

“He knows how to switch on and switch off. “He’s very organised and he’s a fighter‚ which is something that you want at the top of the order and in a situation like this. I’m very impressed with the mental capabilities that he’s got and he’s gained them over time through the sheer amount of cricket he’s played.”

SA’s fourth morning tactics came under the spotlight when they only took the new ball after 85 overs. England’s blockbusting all-rounder Ben Stokes had his eye in by then and corralled SA’s bowling in his explosive 75-minute stay.

England scored 157 runs in the 27 pre-lunch overs that took the game beyond chasing reach for the hosts. Kallis said an ailment affecting fast bowler Anrich Nortje and the need to exploit the rough at the Wynberg End outside Stokes’s off-stump forced their hand.

“We felt with the left-hander in Ben Stokes there‚ there was the rough there and we knew he was going to come out and play.

“With the ball being softer‚ we knew one of the balls would misbehave. Anrich also spent a bit of time in the change room and we thought we’d give the old ball a bit of a go and take the new ball and not give it a go‚” Kallis said. “He gave us two chances to get him out, but we put him down earlier, and it cost us a few runs.”

Can the game be saved or won? Kallis’s answer was an expectedly reasoned one based on what he saw in his career. Batting the whole day is relatively straightforward‚ but a fifthday surface coupled with mental demons often imperil teams.

Kallis was glad the pitch died down‚ but knows England have the upper hand with only eight wickets compared with the 312 runs SA need to win the Test.

“I’ve seen some strange and crazy things happen in this game,” he said.

“All three results are possible but it’s going to be a tough ask for us to chase it down.

“However‚ it’s not something that we can rule out. I guess we just have to bat normally and have a look again at tea to see where we are‚” Kallis said.