South Africa v India, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 3rd day January 4, 2011

SA plan on safety-first approach


South Africa are not going to come out with all guns blazing on day four of the deciding Test match against India in Cape Town. "The first thing we need to do is make sure we have enough runs so that we don't lose the match," Dale Steyn said at the end of play on day three. "Then, we will think about setting a target."

It may seem like a negative, safety-first approach, but South Africa don't want to risk leaving India with a gettable target on the last day of the match. The highest target chased successfully at Newlands was 331, which Australia managed in March 2002. It was achieved by an Australia at their peak, but South Africa will be mindful of the number. They still have more than 250 runs to score before they get there.

They've already lost the wickets of Graeme Smith and nightwatchman Paul Harris, but Steyn does not think that will hamper their progress too much. "Losing Graeme was big, but Harro did his job. He made sure Hashim [Amla] only faced four balls instead of three overs."

It will mean that a lot will rest on South Africa's batting order, particularly the two men currently occupying the crease, Alviro Petersen and Amla. Petersen has not yet done enough to cement his place as Smith's opening partner, but this gives him the perfect opportunity to do so. Besides the 77 he scored in Centurion, he has had three starts but has not been able to push on. If he can capitalise on this situation, he will go a long way to putting down roots in the batting line-up for some time to come

Amla had a disappointing Test in Durban but scored an aggressive 59 in the first innings at Newlands, before succumbing to a self-described "sugar rush". He is expected to adopt a more structured strategy in the second knock, especially because of the injury sustained to Jacques Kallis, who has a contusion near his rib and will only bat if necessary. That means Ashwell Prince will also come under the spotlight. He is renowned for his ability to perform under pressure and grind out runs when needed, although South Africa will not want to depend on that to put themselves in a position of advantage.

If the Australia chase is taken out of the equation, the next highest successfully chase is 211, by South Africa against India in 2007. That bit of history may mean nothing now, because the India team on the current tour is more competitive away from home than the team from 2007. That may be why South Africa are talking more like they are prepared to play for a draw than a win.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2011, 15:15 GMT

    Jacques Kallis deserves too much of an applause,appreciation for his performance in this Test Match.It is just amazing and wonderful the way he has batted.Congrats to him.

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2011, 10:40 GMT

    Kallis deserves this. He is arrogant.

  • Subrata on January 5, 2011, 8:58 GMT

    SA can't play spin. Be it home or away. Shane Warne used to make them bite the dust routinely , now Harbhajan is doing the same. Their bowling is world class, but batting looks club standard (with the exception of Kallis and Amla).

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    smith must be criticised n removed as captain for tiring styen(which will only shorten n spoil his career n his talent) by not using a 1 more pacer like mclaren. instead he's using harris n 7 batsmen.

  • bob on January 5, 2011, 8:17 GMT

    Great to see a truly competitive match after the nonsense Australia has been serving up all summer. I agree - a lot depends on what Bhajji can pull off in his first ten overs. If Amla and Petersen get knocked in for the day, they can put something together. A lead of 300 might test India, but in truth RSA probably need more like 400, taking up the first few overs of tmrw as well.

  • Dinker on January 5, 2011, 8:16 GMT

    saftety first approach is ridiculous for SA especially considering this is their back yard.Indian seamers will leak runs on 4th day morning nad SA should be able to post a total in excess of 300 if they play normally even if Harby does bowl ewll and get a few wickets or even a 5 for(considering they are already 50 ahead they need only 250 more vwry much gettable).and when India bat steyn can run through the line up.he is a class apart as shown already.SA wil win if they dont chocke!!!!simple and this comment is from india.india lost it when they failed to get a notable first innings lead especially after the marathon gritty stand between gambhir and SRT.bowlers win matches and Steyn is one such..period

  • Faisal on January 5, 2011, 8:15 GMT

    For those who compare India's no.1 status with Australians/windies of the yesteryears, they need to get the facts right. None of the teams then, gave a tough challenge to them.( barring a few ocassions on home soil). Most of the teams at the present have very few difference between them. I wouldn't dare to compare the current Indian team with the old AUS / WI, still this team have in it the intensity and will power to put up a strong fight with whatever resourses they have.Even AUS lost in India coming after 16 consecutive wins.SA did try to match with the AUS, but lacked the inrensity and nerve to tackle pressure situations.Precisely, India is No.1 at the momemt and thats a fact although many disagree and don't seem to agree untill India beat AU/SA/ENG 5-0( isn't that ridiculous given the situation now?)Engalnd comes closer than SA at the moment, but that can be considered only after India tour of ENG. Till then its India.

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    @ SunnyGIsGawd thank God u r not Dhoni, in case u dont know, Sehwag is having a shoulder problem, that is the reason why he is not bowling..

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    LOL he is revealing the team's strategy in a press conference. Who is going to believe him?

  • Shayne on January 5, 2011, 7:10 GMT

    @ CoolJack_143. Not sure what games you have been watching. How can you possibly say Indian batsman dominated the second test and this first innings. They scored less than 250 in both innings in Durban and outscored South Africa by 2 runs here. In both instances it was the brilliance of ONE batsman that allowed them to get to their final total. VVS Laxman in Durban and Tendulkar in Cape Town. I think India have batted welll but they have hardly dominated.

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