INDIAN captain Virat Kohli (R) and team-mate Wriddhiman Saha change the nets during a training session.—AP
INDIAN captain Virat Kohli (R) and team-mate Wriddhiman Saha change the nets during a training session.—AP

RANCHI: South Africa captain Faf du Plessis is hoping for a fighting reaction from his beleaguered team as they go into the third and final Test against India at Ranchi on Saturday seeking to avoid a series whitewash.

South Africa suffered their heaviest loss to India in the second Test, going down by an innings and 137 runs in Pune last weekend. The tourists were also clobbered in the first Test at Visakhapatnam by 203 runs.

“It’s important for us to understand that we have to fight our way out of these last two losses,” Du Plessis told a news conference on the eve of the first day.

“We can’t expect things just to happen. They won’t happen, because India is a very powerful team at the moment. Their record at home is amazing.

“So for us, it’s just about trying to keep doing the things well, keep practising hard, keep doing the processes as well as you can, and then hopefully it’s just a matter of time and you start winning again.”

South Africa, who host England in December and January, have lost their last four Tests two at home to Sri Lanka in February and the first two of the ongoing tour to India.

“It is tough. It is tough when you’re losing,” he added. “For us, we’re very, very competitive people, so it does take a dent out of your confidence, but international sport is supposed to be hard, and the guys who have stayed at the top for a long time will tell you that it comes with ups and it comes with downs, personally and from a team point of view.”

Du Plessis hopes to “bat big” as South Africa look to salvage some honour in the final Test.

The tourists had to play catch-up in the first two Tests after losing the toss and allowing India to amass monster first-innings totals of 502 in Visakhapatnam and 601 in Pune.

Du Plessis, heading a young side after Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn hung up their boots, has had a respectable series with one 55 and one 64 but now wants to kick on to three figures.

“The fact that I have done it [scored 50] twice already this series, there is no reason for me not to go and get a big one,” the South African skipper told reporters.

“That’s a challenge for myself because I understand that sixties is not going to win Test matches for us. I need to bat big like the Indian team has done and score big runs.”

Opening batsman Dean Elgar has been the only standout South Africa performer with his 160 in the first Test.

Despite having lost the series, Du Plessis said the Ranchi game was still important as points in the new ICC World Test Championship were still up for grabs.

India consolidated their number one position in the championship table after collecting 80 points from their first two Test wins. The Proteas are in a lowly seventh place.

In a lighter vein, du Plessis said he may send out a substitute for the toss for Satu­rday’s match against after nine straight losses flipping the coin in Asian Tests.

“Probably I will send somebody else to the toss tomorrow, I’ll give you that, because my record so far hasn’t been great, and then if we put big runs on the board in the first innings, that’s where we need to start.”

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2019