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Proteas remain optimistic despite setbacks

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South Africa remain optimistic of a strong comeback in the first Test match against England at Lord’s. England are firmly in control with a lead of 216 runs with nine wickets remaining after three days, and look set to dangle another challenge of attrition and temperament for the Proteas.

Star batsman in the first innings, Temba Bavuma, says the team will take some confidence from their successes in similar situations in the past. Vernon Philander is expected to bowl on Sunday after receiving a blow to the hand while batting, with x-rays revealing severe bruising and no fracture to the hand.

“England are in a strong position at the moment,” Bavuma said after his top score of 59 in the first innings. “ There is no need to hide behind that. We have found ourselves in positions like this before, I think of Perth last year, so at the back of our minds we know that the possibility is always there. We will try to stay as optimistic as possible.

“ I do believe that there will be an opportunity for us in the game,” he explained. “ It will be a matter of making use of the opportunity when it does come.”

Bavuma says it was disappointing that a number of the batsmen could not capitalise on their starts, and believes the line-up will be able to adjust their game plans and strategy to counter the deteriorating conditions.

“ It was quite frustrating, not ideal,” he said of the batting. “ If you look at England’s first innings, they had one guy who went big for them, that has been the difference so far. We had a number of guys who got themselves in on that wicket but we weren’t able to make anything of it. We will learn from that in the second innings and whoever manages to get in on that wicket can do something big for the team.”

The attack bowled brilliantly despite being a man down, but will welcome the return of Philander on Sunday, as they look to bowl out as much time as possible in the match.

“ As a team we can take a lot of confidence from our bowling effort in the second innings,” Bavuma explained. “ If you compare that to the first innings, I think the intensity and the skills we were able to bring out was good. If we can come tomorrow and replicated the same skills and intensity that we had in these 50 overs I think it could put an interesting spin on things.”

Alastair Cook (59) and Gary Balance (22) will resume with the score on 119/1. Play is scheduled to start at 11h00 local time.