DURBAN – The Proteas will go again in Port Elizabeth, and they will have no thoughts of revenge on their minds. The defeat to Sri Lanka might have stung, but they know that they themselves have to get better in all disciplines in order to square the series.
“There is no thought of revenge. We just have to play a bit better than we did,” coach Ottis Gibson told media in the Windy City yesterday.
There is not much more to it than that, really.
South Africa have to lift their performances with bat and ball, while their fielding could also do with some polishing.
Their slip catching remains a bit of a roulette. It can look up there with the best in the world on some days, and then plumb the depths on others.
These are the small margins that South Africa need to close this week, as they seek to square the series against the visitors.
They will have to do so without Vernon Philander, who has been ruled out by a hamstring injury.
Philander played no part on the fourth and final day in Durban, and his absence will again see the pack reshuffled.
There did seem to be an unwillingness to break up the four pacemen who did good work against , but Philander’s absence makes that choice a little bit easier. There has been no addition to the squad in Philander’s lieu, as there are already several options at hand.
There are two choices for the selectors to consider ahead of the start tomorrow morning. One would see a batsman, either Zubayr Hamza or Theunis de Bruyn, called up. And the other would see Wiaan Mulder, the young Lions all-rounder, handed a Test debut.
Given the must-win nature of the second Test, and the concerns over runs in the middle, it is likely that South Africa will go for the conventional seven batsmen, and trust their four bowlers – including Keshav Maharaj – to perform accordingly.
Kagiso Rabada, the tearaway fast bowler, had a quiet Test in Durban, as he shook off the cobwebs of a short break. He got better in the second innings, but he didn’t have the influence that has become the norm when he has ball in hand.
With overs under his belt, and a return to a ground where he has some very good – and rather recent – memories, it would be no surprise to see Rabada find his mojo again, and inflict some hurt upon Sri Lanka.
Dale Steyn is another who has always enjoyed St George’s Park. The venue is one that also takes spin, but it tends to dry quickly, and encourage exponents of reverse swing.
That is Steyn and Rabada lingo, and they will be both chomping at the bit to alter the course of a series that went wonky in Durban.
Play in Port Elizabeth starts at 10am tomorrow.