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Will South Africa of old stand up in Nagpur?

The four-match series has seen the visiting South African batsmen getting caught in the cobwebs of spin and the talk that has accompanied it. The ‘hit out to get out of the rut’ policy has proved a double edged sword for Hashim Amla’s men.

What would serve the visitors better is the good old fashioned way of playing Test cricket, something they seem to have forgotten on their tour here: Play solid defensive cricket, put a premium on your wicket.

Test cricket at its core is about patience not flamboyance.

If bravado isn’t going to give you a win, isn’t it much better to just lie low and let the storm pass? Who knows that on another day, fortunes may change and maybe the hunter becomes the hunted? Remember South Africa’s 2012-13 tour of South Africa to Australia? Remember Faf du Plessis’ debut Adelaide Test?

That ‘stonewalling’ knock is still the most remembered one played by du Plessis in his 24-Test career. More astounding was the hand played by AB de Villiers back then. De Villiers, the modern day cricketing adjective for flamboyance and inventiveness, played out 220 balls without hitting a boundary. South Africa batted out four and half sessions to earn a famous draw from the brinks of defeat. Next up in Perth, the tables were turned. The visitors won the deciding Test and the three-match series 1-0. The result was achieved despite Australia being on the top for most of the first two Tests.

Back to the present and South Africa find themselves again in a similar spot. They have been outplayed by India in the two Tests so far. The visitors need at least a draw in the third Test to have chance to remain in the series. Almost half the players of the Adelaide team are playing in Nagpur. Amla, Morkel and Tahir too were part of that match.

Will the South Africa of old turn up at Jamtha on Wednesday? Going into the third Test, the visiting camp has given signals that revival may be on cards. “It’s very important for us to focus on playing good disciplined cricket. To be tough, whatever the conditions thrown at us. To be mentally in a good space.

“We’re the No. 1 Test team in the world and we need to show that. Someone needs to put up their hand and take it on. I think with what happened over the last couple of weeks, there are a lot of guys who are ready to do that,” pace spearhead Morne Morkel said ahead of the match.

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