They’ve been in the nets, talked about strategy, watched hours and hours of video, but they appear no closer to halting the cricketing vortex India have had them in since this six match ODI series started 10 days ago in Durban.
So now they arrive at ‘Pink Day’ an occasion that has rapidly become one of the highlights of the summer. It’s status as a ‘must see’ event of the season has been helped by the fact that the Proteas have never lost when clad in pink. In fact they’ve mostly dominated and on the one occasion England had them on the rack two years ago, Adil Rashid dropped a sitter and Chris Morris blasted 62 off 38 balls to help South Africa win by one wicket.
They’d take that today, they’d take any kind of win in fact for it keeps alive hopes of drawing the series at least – but to do that they must stop the dizziness.
The home team had all manner of spinners bowling at them in the Wanderers nets on Friday. The Cape Cobras’ tall left arm spinner George Linde was bowling at the South African top order. A host of wrist spinners from the Gauteng semi-professional ranks and even the academy were roped in, anything that could vaguely replicate what Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have been dishing up over the course of the first three games of the series.
Those two have been responsible for 21 of the 28 South African wickets that have fallen in the series, an astonishing display of dominance.
Morris, whose been at the crease far earlier than he or South Africa would want in this series, said, despite the presence of seemingly every kind of spinner at the training, that no new plans had been developed to try and combat Yadav and Chahal.
“There’ll be more video work done, but I don’t think there’ll be any new plans,” said Morris. “Maybe it’s a case of changing our options.”
What are those options? They’ve dismissed the notion of moving Hashim Amla from the top of the order to the middle. Morris himself said he’s not inclined towards elevating himself up from seven.
In terms of personnel, Farhaan Behardien is certainly an option that now demands serious consideration.
One option that will definitely slot back in to the starting team, is AB de Villiers, now injury free and judging by his ‘net’ , hitting the ball sweetly.
Further recourse for the Proteas came from the venue, under fire recently and docked demerit points for a poor pitch in the Test match. The Wanderers’ head groundsman, Bethuel Buthelezi, has prepared a strip for the clash that is in the same area of the square as the one that played host to the famous ‘438 game.’
The former head groundsman, Christ Scott, who has been on hand helping to prepare the surface, pointed out that the geography of the pitch was the same as that famous one in 2006, but it has since been relaid.
Still, that particular pitch is to the right of the Wanderers square, and the old watchers of the game at the storied venue know it is the half of the square which is favourable for batting. Because of the location, it means the boundary to the eastern side of the ground is relatively short - making viewing from the cheap wooden seats a potentially action packed exercise.
And while the pitch – which looked flat and full of runs yesterday – and it’s location could be an aid to the South Africans, you can bet it will be one Virat Kohli is looking forward to playing on too.
He’s feasted on the South African bowlers in this series plundering 318 runs in three matches, with only Shikhar Dhawan in any close proximity as far as the individual aggregates for the series are concerned – and he has scored 156 runs fewer than his captain.
There is no point in the South African players feeling sorry for themselves today for perspective, the cause for which they are raising awareness has many stories of people who have endured far tougher tests than the inability to play wrist spin.