Mominul Haque on his way to a top score of 77 as Bangladesh held South Africa at bay on day three of the first test against Bangladesh. Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi/BackpagePix

A big part of South Africa’s strategy going forward in the first of two Tests against Bangladesh is dependent on the pitch at Senwes Park breaking up and there was concern in their camp on Saturday night that after three days it hadn’t done so sufficiently.

The Bangladeshis, more accustomed to these kinds of surfaces, feel the surface is actually getting better. That may just be a case of using some positive thinking to try and raise spirits ahead of their efforts to salvage the game.

For their part, the South Africans know it will take more hard graft to bowl out Bangladesh again, so they weren’t too pleased that 17 overs were knocked off on Saturday owing to bad light.

“To be honest (the pitch) hasn’t deteriorated as much as most people would have expected,” said Keshav Maharaj, who picked up 3/92 in Bangladesh’s first innings.

“We will have to see if the overnight rain affects the pitch.”

The match has unfolded with a rhythm normally associated with a game on the sub-continent - slow over the first three days, but usually in that part of the world it tends to speed up from late on the fourth day.

South Africa must pray that is the case here, although Mominul Haque, who top scored for Bangladesh with 77, said the pitch was easier to bat on on Day 3 than had been the case when South Africa batted.

“It is still good, in fact the wicket is getting better by the day,” said Mominul.

He added that Bangladesh’s wickets yesterday were very much down to their own errors.

“They didn’t get us out,” remarked Mominul. “Guys were getting out when they were well set.”

Although Bangladesh’s total of 320 was the second highest ever against South Africa, Mominul said they weren’t happy.

“On that kind of pitch 320 isn’t good enough, we should be scoring 400 to 500 runs on that pitch.”

South Africa will assess the surface this morning when Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma resume the second innings.

The home team’s lead currently sits at 230 and they’ll want to add at least another 120 runs before thoughts turn to a declaration.

“We’ll await the feedback from the batsman and then see if (the pitch) is getting better or worse to bat on,” said Maharaj.

Sunday Independent

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