South Africa captain Temba Bavuma has said the lack of Test cricket this year has been a key factor in the team's poor batting performance against the visitors in the first innings of the Centurion Test. Bavuma was the top scorer with 52 runs as they were restricted to 197 in the first innings.
India made a fine start to the Centurion Test against South Africa with the visitors taking a lead of 146 runs at the end of Day 3. Batting first, India scored 327 runs courtesy of a century by KL Rahul and fifty from Mayank Agarwal. Rahul scored 123 runs while Agarwal played a knock of 60 runs. In response, India wrapped up the South African innings on 197 with Temba Bavuma being the lone warrior with a half-century for the hosts as Mohammed Shami took a five wicket haul.
South Africa had played only five Tests in 2021 and the last fixture was against West Indies in June. On the other hand, India are playing their 15th Test and are coming on the back of a home series win versus New Zealand. South Africa captain Temba Bavuma opined that the lack of red-ball cricket played a key role in South Africa's poor batting display.
"I don't want to be accused of making excuses for our play, but that does have an impact," Bavuma said in the virtual press conference.
"If you look at the way we played on the first day. I don't believe that is the standard and the intensity that we can play at. And one of the factors is the lack of match practice. You can have as many nets as you want, but nothing simulates going out in the middle.”
"There is not much we can do as players, but there is that disparity in the number of games. We have to find a way mentally to meet the challenge."
India are poised on 16/1 with KL Rahul and night-watchman Shardul Thakur at the crease when stumps were called at the end of the day's proceedings. South Africa will hope to limit India on a low score in order to create some winning chances for themselves. Also, there is a high probability of rain on the last day which might make life easy for them even if they are in trouble.
Shami played a crucial role in the first innings with the ball for India as he picked five wickets conceding a mere 44 runs. It was his 6th fifer in Tests and became only the fifth Indian pacer to scalp 200 wickets in Test cricket. Bavuma praised Shami saying that he is a world-class bowler. He also added that the South Africa batsman should back their defense as much as they can.
"He is a world-class bowler, so I don't think it is something we did not expect. As batters, we have to front up and back our defense as much as we can. But if he bowls a good ball, kudos to him,” he opined.