South Africa's Rassie van der Dussen in action during the second Test at Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – Just 31 overs to go. That’s what stands between the Proteas and safety in the second Test against England at Newlands on Tuesday.

Despite losing anchorman Pieter Malan after lunch, the middle-order duo of Rassie van der Dussen and Quinton de Kock displayed resolute resistance against an England attack that have used seven bowlers to try and capture the 10 South African second-innings wickets.

They’ve got five up to now, with the Proteas going to tea on 225/5 off 115 overs.

After captain Faf du Plessis played an ill-advised sweep shot to be dismissed before lunch for 19, it was left up to opener Malan and Van der Dussen to continue the battle for a draw, with the world-record 438-run winning target long forgotten.

It was a matter of survival, and that’s what Malan did on his Test debut for over six hours.

He continued to leave the ball as well as he had on Monday afternoon, and blocked the ones that were heading towards his stumps.

But the combination of a hard second new ball and Sam Curran’s left-arm seamers saw Malan push at one that he could have left alone again, and Ben Stokes took a good low catch at slip.

Malan had well for his 84 (off 288 balls, 3x4), but his departure would have worried coach Mark Boucher, as wicket-keeper De Kock is an attacking batsman who likes to go for his shots.

But the left-hander dug his heels in, and although he played in a much more positive manner to Van der Dussen (17 not out off 105 balls, 2x4), De Kock was 38 not out off 91 balls (4x4) at tea as they shared an unbroken partnership of 54.

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England are probably still the favourites to clinch victory and level the series 1-1, but South Africa will hope that De Kock, Van der Dussen and the remaining all-rounders Dwaine Pretorius and Vernon Philander can shut up shop in the final session.

The pitch is certainly holding up well enough for them to pull off what would be a remarkable effort to draw the match, but they will have to keep their discipline. It’s all about blocking now…



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