Wed, 22 May 2019

Proteas 'enforcer' biding his time at Kingsmead

16 Feb 2019, 03:37 GMT+10

Durban - The Kingsmead wicket for the first Test between the Proteas and the Sri Lanka has been an interesting one.

While the Proteas fast bowlers under the leadership of coach Ottis Gibson have made hay on spicy, unpredictable home strips over the last 18 months, the slow nature of this Durban wicket has left the likes of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier having to do a little more to earn their scalps.

There have still been 33 wickets in just three days and South Africa are well on course to get the job done on Saturday, but the difference has been noticeable and was highlighted by Sri Lanka's strong lower order resistance in their first innings.

The change has been particularly noticeable when it comes to Olivier.

After taking 24 wickets in a man of the series performance in three Tests against Pakistan over December and January, Olivier has picked up two wickets (1/36 and 1/3) in Durban so far.

Despite the slow wicket, the 26-year-old has not changed his approach and is still favouring the short-pitched bombardment against the Lankans.

Make no mistake, the batsmen have been far from comfortable against him, but it is clear that Olivier is not getting the assistance he had throughout the Pakistan contest.

With Rabada, Steyn and Philander all offering their own unique skills, Olivier confirmed after Friday's play that his role in the attack was still that of the 'enforcer' despite the conditions.

"It is still similar, and my role is to be relentless. I just need to be patient," he said.

"This wicket is a lot different to what we had against Pakistan, but we just need to stick to the basics.

"It's not a wicket where you can just blast teams out. If we just do the right things over and over I think we will be rewarded at the end."

On Thursday, Olivier was made to wait for his opportunity as Steyn bowled 10 overs on the trot while he was ripping through the visitors.

The Proteas also boast the No 1 bowler in Test cricket in Rabada while Philander is considered one of the best new ball exponents the format has seen in recent years.

It means that Olivier often spends long spells watching his more experienced, more pedigreed team-mates in action.

"They have been doing it for so many years. It was so good to see Dale bowling 10 overs on the trot. I can assume that his body was a bit stiff this morning, but he deserves all the credit and he bowled really well," Olivier said.

"As a bowling unit, we stuck to our guns quite well and we got rewarded near the end of the day."

Sri Lanka will resume on Saturday morning - day four - needing another 221 runs for victory with seven wickets remaining.

Spinner Keshav Maharaj is expected to play a big part, but Olivier will be desperate to get hands on the ball and have his say.

Play starts at 10:00.

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