South African batting consultant Justin Sammons on Wednesday hailed Dean Elgar's stubborn resistance against a fearsome Indian attack, saying the skipper's show with the bat will be key if the hosts have to win the Wanderers Test.
Elgar stayed unbeaten 46 at end of third day and during his defiant knock he received many a nasty blow including one on the grille of his helmet as the hosts reached 118 for 2 at stumps, 122 runs shy of a series-levelling win.
"He's a competitor. The thing he loves about the game is the competitiveness. The competitive nature of the Test cricket brings the best out of him," Sammons said of Elgar during the media interaction at the end of the day's play. "His role will be massively important. Having somebody there to bat for the rest of the innings would be the key. Just having someone with his character for the guys coming in to be, I think it's massively important. His leadership goes a long way in getting us over the line tomorrow."
Chasing 240 on a tricky wicket with uneven bounce, Proteas lost Aiden Markram in the 10th over but Elgar along with Keegan Petersen put on a strong fightback to leave the Indian bowlers looking for a second breakthrough.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin finally gave the breakthrough ending the 46-run partnership but Elgar and wicketkeeper-batsman Rassie van der Dussen played out the day to remain unbeaten on 46 and 11 respectively.
"The message for the guys coming in would be to see how the morning plays out and we just have to be adaptive. We need to get through the first hour and play according to the situation. It's been an interesting wicket, not the easiest deck to bat on. "It goes without saying, the task is not going to be easy. The Indian attack has been relentless. But we believe, we can chase it down. The way we batted this afternoon, it's case of point there," he said.
Their batters have shown a lot more positive intent after a flop show in Centurion and the batting consultant blamed it on lack of enough Test cricket over the last six months.
This was South Africa's first Test series in six months. They have played just six Tests under new captain Elgar.
"The basics of Test cricket is about leaving the ball well and ultimately it boils down to know where your off stump is. Having not played a lot of red-ball cricket played a part. So we had to make sure that the guys are in touch with the game. It's about the need for being decisive. It's something that we discussed at length. We had to come out of any sort of tentativeness. It's always easier said than done. The guys have come out and showed positive intent and it's there to see how they have gone about it," he concluded.