Proteas likely to pursue draw

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Proteas assistant coach Adrian Birrel hinted that a draw would be top of the team's mind on the final day of their Test against India at the Wanderers.

Proteas assistant coach Adrian Birrel hinted that a draw would be top of the team's mind on the final day of their Test against India at the Wanderers.

When play gets underway on Sunday the Proteas will have to decide whether they will aggressively pursue the 320 runs they still need for victory with eight wickets in hand.

With Morne Morkel unlikely to feature because of the ankle injury he sustained, the number of eligible batsmen at their disposal drops to seven while Imran Tahir's ability with the bat would suggest that India need only seven wickets for the win.

A draw would therefore be considered a win, but it has to be noted that the last time a Test match at the Wanderers finished without a result was back in 2000 when New Zealand toured the country.

On that occasion rain, not a defensive mindset, proved to be the deciding factor.

"At the moment we're thinking of the draw," Birrell said after the day's proceedings.

"But you never know with the likes of AB de Villiers still to come and the other remarkable players in our change room. We won't make the call now, it's too far ahead to think. If we bat the full day and we bat at the rate that we normally bat, we won't be far off from the win after 90 overs.

"The first hour will be important because it will give us the foundation to fight for the rest of the day."

Birrell said that the team's confidence could build if they were successful in the first session and that they would continuously assess the match situation.

While understandably uncertain about the team strategy on the decisive day, he lauded Alviro Petersen who, on an unbeaten 76, made a solid return after struggling to get past the 30-run barrier on no less than 11 previous attempts.

"Alviro has played fantastically well, he is well placed for a big score," added Birrell.

"Petersen and Faf du Plessis are both there and we have full confidence that they can bat a long time and lay the foundation to fight for the day. They are both fighters, they are not going to give it away, it's a great opportunity for them to play a meaningful and long innings."

Du Plessis was promoted ahead of AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis, who needed to recover after following a long day in the field in their respective roles as wicketkeeper and bowler.

<i>Michael Mentz at the Wanderers</i>

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