Temba Bavuma lauded the fight shown by South Africa's lower-order batsmen Keshav Maharaj and Vernon Philander, on day three of the second Test in Pune.
In reply to India's 601/5d in the first innings, South Africa crumbled around their captain Faf du Plessis who, alongside the No.10 Maharaj, was one of only two batsmen to score fifties. At one point, the visitors were stuttering at 139/7, when Philander joined his captain at the crease.
Du Plessis fell, after making a 117-ball 64, leaving South Africa on 162/8, staring at a total well below 200. However, Philander and Maharaj put on 109 for the ninth wicket to defy India's bowlers and slash the deficit marginally, as South Africa ended on 275. Maharaj made 72 off 132 balls, while Philander's resistance was unbeaten, fetching him 44 off 192 balls.
"It was a spectacular effort from Vernon and Keshav to fight it out there in the middle and face as many balls as they did and still accumulate runs," Bavuma said after play on Saturday, 12 October. "I mean, us in the change room and on the sides, we were enjoying it. We were feeding from the confidence they were giving us.
💬 "Philander batted beautifully. I thought his defense technique against both spin and fast bowling is wonderful."— ICC (@ICC) October 12, 2019
Ravi Ashwin had nothing but praise for Vernon Philander's efforts 👇 https://t.co/7GHB2AaIdg
"You saw the balance between the defence and the attacking shots. That's something we've been speaking about as batters. That's what we are aiming to do. I think the mood is definitely positive and has been positive, to be honest. It was enjoyable to watch."
South Africa face a first-innings deficit of 326 runs, with two days remaining in the Test. But Bavuma felt Maharaj and Philander's efforts could act as a "confidence booster".
That's the end of the innings and the day!— ICC (@ICC) October 12, 2019
Ashwin takes the final wicket and South Africa are all out 275. Rabada is the last man to go and Philander is left unbeaten on 44. Maharaj is the top-scorer with his valiant knock of 72.
Follow #INDvSA LIVE ▶️ https://t.co/MO1tirvOza pic.twitter.com/q4ahE1acrq
"There's a lot of positives to take," Bavuma said. "This is definitely a confidence-booster. Keshav is the big player in the team, obviously Vernon as well. For big players, for senior players to step up when the occasion arises is definitely something we can stick out our chest on.
"Like I said, over the next two days we are going to need a lot more of that... with the ball, with the bat, in every department, we are going to need guys to put up their hand, and no matter which way the result goes, we will show that our pride is intact."