Picture: 123RF/WAVEBREAK MEDIA LTD
Picture: 123RF/WAVEBREAK MEDIA LTD

Will the Proteas succumb to their ninth consecutive Test match defeat on the subcontinent?

Captain Quinton de Kock and his men are staring down the barrel going into the second and final Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi this week after losing the first in Karachi last week.

The South Africans will be looking to save face and avoid a series whitewash when action resumes at the Pindi Cricket Stadium from Thursday.

But there is an elephant in the room — the depressing batting collapses in recent times has seen Mark Boucher’s team hardly amass scores of more than 300‚ as was the case when they posted 220 and 245 in Karachi.

Top-middle-order batsman Rassie van der Dussen faced the media on Monday ahead of Thursday’s Test and said the team has not figured out what the root cause of these disheartening collapses is.

“It is difficult to pinpoint. I think it goes down to the fundamentals of building an innings‚ getting in and giving yourself the best chance for those first 20 or 30 balls‚” said the 31-year-old Lions right-hander.

“It’s a bit of a conglomerate of circumstances‚ I don’t think there’s one correct answer. It is something we are going to rectify. In terms of pinpointing why‚ it’s difficult‚ maybe you can put it down to good bowling‚ maybe you can put it down to a bit of indecision.”

Indecisiveness is probably the best description of the team’s top six in the first match. The Proteas posted a first innings score of just 220 and 245 in the second having won the toss and choosing to bat first.

Openers Dean Elgar (58) and Aiden Markram (74) had opportunities to score big‚ and so did Van der Dussen (64) and Temba Bavuma (40).

It does not help that the team’s best player and captain De Kock has scored just 45 runs at an average of 18 in his four matches as the team’s leader in Tests.

The Proteas were caught in a web of spin during the seven-wicket loss in the first Test‚ mesmerised by Yasir Shah’s spin wizardry and another sterling job by 34-year-old debutant left-arm spinner Nauman Ali.

The Pakistan twin spinners shared 14 wickets between them against a struggling Proteas batting line-up‚ with Van der Dussen run out in the first innings and Shah getting the better of him in the second.

As with many of his teammates‚ it is the first time Van der Dussen has toured Pakistan.

“It is a pretty special feeling. Not a lot of people in our dressing room have been here and it has been a great experience. The conditions‚ practice facilities‚ you know everything is different.”

He said the conditions at Pindi Cricket Stadium were “chilly” and the outfield hard.

“When I stepped onto the field earlier [on Monday]‚ it felt a bit like winter‚ like back in SA on the highveld. So in that sense it is new conditions and you try to reference it and play accordingly.”

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