NZ vs SA 2022 – Rassie van der Dussen hopes South Africa can set 270-280 target


South Africa will be looking for at least 60 more runs, but would be more comfortable with 90 more from their last five batting pairs as they seek to set New Zealand a target in excess of 300 to win the second Test.

On a pitch that remains good for batting, Rassie van der Dussen, South Africa’s top-scorer in the second innings so far, said the visitors are “reasonably happy” with their progress, but want to continue to put pressure on New Zealand’s attack.

“We’re looking at anything around 270 or 280 plus,” he said. “If we can emulate what we did in the first innings with our tailenders and get to the 300 mark, mentally that would be a good mark for us. Hopefully we can start well tomorrow (Monday) and get through their first spells. Their bodies will be sore. To bowl 40 overs in three days is a lot.”

New Zealand’s frontline attack of Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson and Neil Wagner have sent down 46, 48, 38 and 43 overs respectively, but have not shown any signs of fatigue yet. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. Wagner sent down a nine-over spell late on the third day laced with short balls and removed both van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma to leave South Africa at 114 for 5 at one stage.

“When I made my first-class debut 14 years ago, we were in the same team,” van der Dussen said of Wagner. “I knew what his plans were, it’s quite straightforward. We know him, we know what he does. He has a big tank, he keeps running in. Sometimes you have to say to a guy well done.”

Despite having a clear idea of the threat Wagner posed, van der Dussen explained of their plan to take him and the rest of the attack on to extend the lead quickly.

“We went out looking to play on the front foot. We looked to put pressure on them,” he said. “But they’ve got world class bowlers in terms of discipline. They don’t give you much. I went out a bit more streaky than I usually play. I knew I had to try and put some pressure on them to build the lead and I ran out of luck.”

Van der Dussen was eventually caught on the pull and Bavuma was out driving. B both dismissals looked avoidable, but South Africa saw a positive in the way the pair got out.

“What we saw in this last session is that the ball sat up a bit on the short length,” van der Dussen said. “If the wicket gets two paced, it becomes really tricky. Temba also went out in a way that he doesn’t often go out and the ball just stuck a bit in the wicket. That will be a good signs for us. If it goes sideways and then stops a little, it does get tricky to score runs. Not always that tricky to survive but tricky to score runs.”

South Africa’s run-rate has remained below three an over throughout the match but New Zealand have not had the same issue. They batted at close to four runs an over, thanks largely to Colin de Grandhomme’s carefree career-best 120, which came off 158 balls.

De Grandhomme’s approach is as obvious as they come – “see the ball, hit the ball,” he said – and he was confident about New Zealand’s ability to chase something in the upper 200s. “I think if they get 270 we will be back ourselves to get it,” de Grandhomme said. “It might get slower and lower but it’s still a good pitch.”

South Africa are hoping for exactly that: a surface that will deteriorate enough to bring the only spinner across both teams, Keshav Maharaj, into the game. Maharaj was a surprise pick at a venue where specialist spinners are often benched and took 1 for 46 in the first innings but van der Dussen hopes he will have a bigger role to play on the final day.

“The wicket is a lot drier than it was in the first Test. That’s why we need to get to that 300 mark and then hope it deteriorates late tomorrow and going into day five,” he said. “We’ve got to give Keshav a chance to get into the game, our seamers to run in with short bursts of energy and hopefully the wicket will deteriorate a little bit for us.”

While van der Dussen’s focus was on the role Maharaj could play, South Africa will also lean heavily on their new-ball pair of Kagiso Rabada and Marco Jansen, who are the joint-leading wicket-takers in Tests this year. Rabada took his 11th career five-for in the first innings and van der Dussen believes if he has more success, South Africa can level the series.

“He plays a huge role. He is a guy that doesn’t miss his lines and lengths a lot and he asks a lot of questions.” He said. “He knows what he can do and what he can’t do, and as a bowler there aren’t many things he can’t do. He swings the ball both ways, he has a good bouncer, a good yorker. The bowlers, the team look up to him.

“I know it’s sometimes a big weight for him to carry on his shoulders, but he takes that responsibility. That’s what makes him so good. He knows when he bowls well, we play well; when he takes wickets, we win. It’s not nice to face him in the nets, so I can’t imagine it’s nice to face him in the middle. He’s going to be very important in the fourth innings. If he get’s it right, it will go a long way for us to win the Test.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent


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