• Proteas coach Enoch Nkwe has the belief that they’ll beat Pakistan on the fifth day of the second Test.
  • South Africa require a further 243 runs, but have nine wickets in hand and two set batsmen in Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram.
  • A number of records stand to be broken if SA pull off the chase.

Proteas assistant coach Enoch Nkwe has every belief that they’ll be able to do what looks unthinkable and beat Pakistan in the second Test in Rawalpindi.

In chasing 370, South Africa were 127/1 at the close of Day 4 with Aiden Markram (59*) and Rassie van der Dussen (48*) holding the fort. The pair had put on an unbeaten second wicket of 94 that offset the loss of Dean Elgar’s wicket.

However, SA will have to go against their own grain when it comes to chasing totals should they get that far.

SA haven’t successfully overhauled a 200-plus target since November 2011 when tons from Graeme Smith (101*) and Hashim Amla (112) helped reel in 236 against Australia in that famous “47 all out” Test.

There have been plenty of famous reaguards (Adelaide 2012 and Colombo 2014), failed ones (Delhi 2015 and Newlands 2020) and the missed opportunity for the highest successful fourth innings chase (Wanderers 2013), but those don’t come close to the pressure of having to square a series.

While the West Indies pulled off the highest successful fourth innings chase in Asia and fifth highest of all time with their 395 against Bangladesh on Sunday, SA’s attempted fourth innings heist isn’t child’s play.

Should they somehow get there, they’ll have to better Sri Lanka’s 220/8 by a visiting team in Pakistan and the hosts 315 made against Australia as the most successful chases in Pakistan. It’ll also be the fifth highest in Asia.

“We believe that we can win this game. This is the mindset that we’ll be going ahead with. Hopefully Rassie and Markram will carry on with their partnership and make it as big as possible,” Nkwe said.

“Every opportunity that we get, we must always look to win. After the first Test, we had to review in terms of where we are as a unit and the areas we need to improve on. In this Test, we’ve brought ourselves back into the game nicely.”

Nkwe said a mental shift from the players has led to their positive batting in the fourth innings.

SA went through the fourth evening (Test cricket’s collapsing graveyard) unscathed while the unbeaten pair negotiated Nauman Ali and Yasir Shah far better than they did on the third evening of the first Test.

“They are backing themselves and freeing themselves up. We’ve done a lot of work with regards to clearing their minds up and playing within their own character. We’ve seen plenty of that from Quinton, who actually opened up that mindset and it was refreshing,” Nkwe said.

“We want to win this game; we want to build strong and big partnerships. The approach was to encourage guys to be themselves. When the opportunity to speed up the game is there, it must be used.”

With the chronic collapsing not forgotten, Nkwe said maintaining their intensity was key to them keeping their heads intact when the pressure is on.

Van der Dussen and Markram staged a similar recovery from the loss of an early wicket in the first Test, but when their wickets fell, the innings cascaded into a procession of wickets.

“We’ve identified that, along with the small areas that also needed identifying and looking at the fact we can play those situations better. In the last Test, we just lowered our intensity and that was an area we looked at and addressed,” Nkwe said.

“It’s good to see the guys responding and taking full responsibility to avoid the situation we found ourselves in. I hope these two can build on this partnership because that’s going to be key to avoid wickets falling in clusters. That happens in the sub-continent and we’re trying to avoid that. Even if we lose a wicket, the guys are ready for the challenge and we’ve embraced it. Even if we lose a wicket, the guys know they need to give themselves a chance to build another partnership.”

Play on Day 5 gets underway at 07:00 on Monday morning.

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