Proteas assistant coach Malibongwe Maketa feels that some of the batsmen came into the Australian Test a bit underdone. Photo: Warriors Cricket via Facebook

DURBAN – Australian opening batsman Cameron Bancroft said on Saturday that South Africa’s batsmen will face a major challenge in the fourth innings of the first Test at Kingsmead.

Although South Africa fought back to reduce Australia to 213/9 in their second innings at the end of the third day, the Australians hold an overall lead of 402.

Bancroft, who top-scored with 53, said conditions would be difficult for the South Africans when they eventually start to bat.

“The ball is starting to reverse-swing a lot more,” said Bancroft. “For new batters starting their innings, that’s very, very difficult.

“The wicket has just slowly deteriorated. There are a lot more bare patches, and the ball’s reverse-swinging earlier and earlier because of that abrasiveness.”

Adding to what is already shaping as a massive task for the hosts, opening batsman Dean Elgar suffered a dislocated right little finger when he held a catch at cover off a ferocious drive by Mitchell Starc off Morné Morkel late in the day.

Elgar left the field, and a team spokesperson said the finger had been put back in place and the left-hander would be able to bat.

Proteas assistant coach Malibongwe Maketa said his team’s bowlers had shown improvement on their first-innings performance.

“We did feel we gave away way too many boundaries,” he said.

Maketa acknowledged that South Africa were in a difficult position after a poor batting effort when they were bowled out for 162 in their first innings. 

“A few guys probably came in not having hit enough, but they have played a lot of cricket and they know what is required to do well at this level. We’ve got faith that we can still be a factor in the game,” he said.