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Gutsy Bavuma takes it in his stride

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Temba Bavuma says he has learnt to embrace the responsibility of batting with the lower order, after his match-changing 52 in the third Test match against England at The Oval on Saturday. His crucial partnerships in ‘difficult’ conditions with Kagiso Rabada (30) and Morne Morkel (17) -which contributed 100 runs -  helped the Proteas avoid the follow-on and an embarrassing first innings total.

Lower-order resolves have become a  speciality for the 27-year-old, a role he has adapted to admirably in his 23- match Test career.  

“It’s always difficult in those situations,” he admitted after the rain-affected day on Saturday. “ Where I bat, more often than not, that is where I will find myself having to adapt to those type of situations. I didn’t see it differently to all the other times I’ve batted. In terms of game plan, I tried to take it ball by ball. We wanted to see how long we could keep them out there.”

England are in full control with a lead of 252 runs with nine wickets in hand and two days remaining in the match. It seems like yet another mountain for the batsmen, but Bavuma says the line-up has braced themselves for another fighting fourth innings effort to save the Test match.

“We would ideally like to bowl them out as cheaply as possible,” he said. “We need to come out tomorrow and find a way to stretch the time out in the match and to possibly give our batsmen four sessions to fight it out. We have done it before, we know what is needed to do as a line-up and we have the belief that we can bat to save the game.”

Bavuma passed 1000 Test runs during his calm and gutsy innings, an achievement that has given him due confidence after a frustrating run where he hasn’t been able to convert his solid starts . He reached the milestone in 35 innings, similar to Jacques Kallis who took 33 innings.

“ I’m happy to have achieved this milestone,” he said “At one point I didn’t think that I would get to this point. It’s obviously a small step ahead in my career and it will be important for me to continue putting in contributing performances when I get the opportunity.”

Rain washed out most of the third day, but play is scheduled to start at 11h00 local time on Sunday with extra time to be made up throughout the day.