South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 3rd day November 19, 2011

Amla, de Villiers almost taken game away - Rudolph


Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers might well have batted Australia out of the Wanderers Test, according to South Africa opener Jacques Rudolph. The pair came together with South Africa having slipped to 90 for 3, effectively 60 for 3 because of their deficit, but their unbroken 139-run partnership has put South Africa in a winning position.

"When we lost the first three wickets upfront, you still felt a little bit like the game was balanced on a knife edge," Rudolph said. "But I thought those two [Amla and de Villiers] almost took it away from the Australians."

South Africa only need a draw to win the two-Test series and claim their first series win over Australia at home since readmission. However, Rudolph, as well as assistant coach Russell Domingo, said the team is still targeting a clean sweep of the visitors. They have been in discussion about what a comfortable enough lead would be.

"I was speaking to Jacques Kallis and he also said that if we get anything around 300, it's a competitive score and the Aussies will still be in with a chance," Rudolph said. "Around 350 or 400, will be a good score. Tomorrow morning we've got 11 overs before the second new ball, which might give Hashim and AB a chance to get in and set up another good one or two sessions." Rudolph said South Africa hoped to be "bowling in the afternoon" to give themselves enough time to dismiss Australia.

Domingo said South Africa's task will be to accumulate runs briskly on the fourth morning. "It's a long way from looking at declarations. We know it's generally a quick scoring ground here, so scoring runs tomorrow morning is going to be crucially important," he said. "How much we set them and if we declare or don't declare is not on anyone's mind at the moment, it's just to have enough to give us a good chance of winning the Test match."

With the pitch remaining a good strip for batting, Domingo said South Africa cannot afford to "be stupid" about the size of the target they set Australia. "We have to give the bowlers enough runs to [be able to employ] carry a third slip and the gully," he said. "At a place like the Wanderers, where scores can be chased down because of the nature of the outfield and the altitude, we've got to be clever about what type of carrot we are going to dangle, if we are going to dangle a carrot."

Although the strip remains batsmen-friendly, something is also expected to be in it for the bowlers throughout the match. Rudolph said the result may hinge on which side have the more patient attack. "It [the track] has proven that if you just stick to the one area, there is enough in it for the bowlers. So it will come down to the bowler who will be willing to do that the most consistently."

Australia's bowlers, barring Patrick Cummins, struggled on the third day. Siddle bowled well but was unable to make a breakthrough, and Mitchell Johnson shortened his run-up without devastating effects. Shane Watson said the bowlers are aware that they will need to find some extra spark, because they do not expect a favour, in the form of a sporting declaration, from South Africa. "We're going to have to bowl them out, there's no way they are going to let us in," he said. "If we were in the position they are in, we'd be doing the same thing."

Watson said Australia will be up for the task, whatever it is. "If a few guys have a really good day, it means we can chase down a big total," he said.

Wet weather may thwart both teams' plans, with rain forecast for most of the fourth day. Domingo said South Africa have not been keeping an eye on the clouds, though, and will stick to their plan of playing positively. "Our mindset will be to look to win, not to depend on weather to save [win] a Test series."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Tom on November 20, 2011, 9:48 GMT

    With Smith, Kallis and Amla , SA has a pretty solid batting lineup and their bowling is the best in the world. Australian, on the other hand has no reliable batsman( Ponting is near end) and their batting is as fragile as any thing. They have got some flashy strokemakers who looks good (including Watson) against weaker teams but very ordinary against good bowling.

  • peter on November 20, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    i dont understand all this talk about SA being the best test team in the world? Firstly the article is about them getting a good score to defend against Australia (which is looking unlikely just now). Secondly your tail begins at 6, and you have 2 good bowlers and one all rounder? As much as i hate to admit it, England is much better at this stage.

  • sri on November 20, 2011, 7:35 GMT

    @NRI LOL Bell and cook.Wasn't cook fighting for his place before ashes? Bell? Let him score some runs in INDIA. One good season against pathetic bowling of AUS and IND make him just good batsman but no the best. SA players esp de velliers, kallis have better records in IND than any other contemporary outside batsmen (including ponting)

  • Nitin on November 20, 2011, 6:21 GMT

    @NRI-Bell and Cook? One good season don't make anyone a great batsman. Both are mediocre to say the least, especially bell. my list for top 10 batsman in test now 1) Dravid 2) Sachin 3)Amla 4) Laxman 5) Kallis 6)Sehwag 7)Gambhir 8)ABD 9)Smith 10) Sangakara

  • Amol on November 20, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    SA the best TEST SIDE in the world.....I only wish they could be able to play more number of tests than they are generally playing each year. Since the day they slipped from the Numero Uno position at home against AUS (early 2009), they haven't got enough opportunities to get back at that number. This year they are playing only a pathetic five tests (which actually could have been six if not for those pathetic 20/20 matches spread all over the year.

  • Amol on November 20, 2011, 6:03 GMT

    Rudolph has proved enough to deserve his place in team. Nobody outside of team management can say him to shut up. At least I didn't expect him to hit a century in his first few matches right after making a comeback in international stage after 4-5 whole years. If he is making a statement it's a team decision.

  • Michael on November 20, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    Johnson and Siddle need to learn from an 18y/o and bowl disciplined lines and length. How are you supposed to frustrate a batsman into making a mistake on a good pitch if keep leaking runs. It shows the sad state of our bowling stocks that a youngster is the most disciplined, and that our attack is so depleted when we loose an all rounder...

  • Allan on November 20, 2011, 3:47 GMT

    @NRI - Bell still needs to be tested and prove himself (particularly at No. 3 or 4) before I'm willing to place him in that group. He has made a great start and does show all the pedigree, but we still have to wait I think. On the other hand Cook, I'm sorry is not in that class. On spin friendly conditions I am certain he will struggle, as will almost all England players. Spin is their weakness, and a big one it is. Bell may be the exception. AB & certainly Amla have plenty of runs in spin conditions to eliminate any doubt. But you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

  • Dummy4 on November 20, 2011, 1:07 GMT

    I hope Cummins gets a five for after De Villiers hits a ton and gets SA around 300 ahead .. than we are on for a classic.. ha ha

  • Vinay on November 19, 2011, 21:29 GMT

    Why is Rudolph speaking? SA, please take Dean Elgar as an opener instead or force Prince to open and give Duminy a chance. Best test batsmen in the world are Bell & Cook right now, not Amla & AB.

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