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Kagiso Rabada says Proteas batting unit needs to be backed

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Johannesburg — Far from any kind of old fashioned ‘do your damn job’ admonishment, the Proteas will as a collective put their arms around the shoulders of their under-fire batting unit that was overwhelmed in the first session of the second Test on Thursday.

South Africa slumped to 77/5 at lunch, after Dean Elgar had won the toss and batted. The tourists were eventually dismissed shortly after tea for just 151. It was a mixture of good bowling from England, bad luck — in the case of Rassie van der Dussen — and poor shot selection that left the Proteas in a hole.

Kagiso Rabada, who top scored with 36, dismissed any talk of division between batters and bowlers. “Our batters know what they have to go and do. None of them are getting out on purpose,” said Rabada, who claimed the wicket of Joe Root, in a lively last session.

It was the lower order that dug South Africa out of a tricky spot at Lord’s to help set up victory in the first Test. It has often been the case in recent years that the lower order has had to do more than expected as the main batters have struggled.

In six Tests this year, only Sarel Erwee and Kyle Verreynne have scored hundreds, which has meant the bowling unit — a very potent one — has had to be exceptional to keep South Africa in matches or give them an advantage.

“We know we have quality in that batting line-up,”said Rabada. “It is a young line-up as well. I guess it is just about gaining experience. They know what they have done wrong and as a team we are backing each and every player to go out and do their best. If it doesn’t come off, it is what it is and we just carry on with it.

“Individually I think they are taking responsibility for their actions, and I know they will be trying their utmost best. In the unit, you can’t go around pointing fingers, that’s just energy sapping. As a collective we are backing each and everyone. What’s happened in the past has happened, you have to look forward, apply ourselves and hope to score some runs as a unit.”

As for Elgar’s decision to bat, under cloudy skies and on a pitch that offered plenty of assistance to the seamers in the first session, Rabada explained that he wasn’t too perturbed.

“Generally if you’re playing two spinners you are then going to bat first. The wicket is getting drier and drier by the second, it’s day one, it’s really dry and quite slow. I think it was the right decision (to bat).”

Simon Harmer was called into the starting line-up in place of Marco Jansen.

“We’ve played two spinners for a reason … it is what it is,” said Rabada.

“Everyone knows that Simon is a top quality bowler, he’s proven that especially in the county championship. (Marco’s) an exciting talent, he can bat and we have seen what he can do with the ball. He’s got a lot of X-factor. Unfortunately he had to miss out today. That was a team decision, it wasn’t based on his performance.”

@shockerhess

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