Bavuma, who bats in the middle-order for his Lions franchise team, was finally given an opportunity for the fourth and final Test in Delhi after sitting out the first three matches, as he replaced the out-of-form Stiaan van Zyl.
And despite having to fill an unusual spot as an opening batsman for the first time in his first-class career of 80 matches, Bavuma has been one of the better Proteas performers during the first four days at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium and made a considerable claim to continue in that role against England later this month.
He produced a gritty 22 in the first innings, and followed it up with an even more assured 34 off 117 balls on Sunday as the South Africans adopted safety-first tactics in a dramatic attempt to save the Test – having already lost the series 2-0 – after India set them a near-impossible winning target of 481.
Hashim Amla’s team ended on 72/2 on Sunday, but it came off 72 overs. Amla himself took 46 balls to get off the mark, while ace batsman AB de Villiers scored his first run off the 33rd delivery he faced.
But Bavuma, after a slow start, didn’t allow India’s star spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to bog him down as he used his feet well to get to the pitch of the ball. He occupied the crease for 43 overs in total to help take the match into a fifth day.
“I am keen to do more of the opening job,” Bavuma said in a Cricket South Africa statement on Sunday. “I always pride myself as a team player, so wherever the opportunity is, or wherever the team needs me to fulfil a role, I will do it. So if I am asked to bat number seven, or I am asked to open, I will do that as well.
“To be honest, that was the toughest piece of batting I’ve ever had to do in my life. I always try to be positive, always look to score runs. I was put in a situation where scoring runs wasn’t the priority, but the amount of time you batted out there was the key thing. I can take out a lot of positives from my batting experience, and hopefully I can grow from that.”
Bavuma said the ploy to just survive and block out the Indian bowlers was engineered by the Proteas batting unit. “Maybe it was something they (India) weren’t expecting,” he said. “We did sit down as a batting unit before the second innings and came up with the best way forward.
“I am always trying to score and be positive against spinners. Having to go against that was the toughest thing, going against your natural instincts as a batter is the toughest part. Understanding that the main thing here is time, not the runs. So batting time, especially for a young, inexperienced guy like me, that is tough.”
And the 25-year-old believes that Amla (23 not out off 207 balls, 3x4) and De Villiers (11 not out off 91 balls, 1x4) can continue to curb their attacking instincts and bat out 90 overs on Monday’s Day 5 to save the Test.
“It’s a tough ask, asking guys to bat 90 overs,” Bavuma said. “It will be day five, so we expect the wicket to deteriorate even more. But we have the experience, we have the skills, so definitely whatever happens, we will go down fighting.
“You see Hash there, he’s laid down his mark. AB is also still there, we still have Faf (du Plessis), JP Duminy and Dane Vilas, so we will definitely carry on the spirit and try our best to salvage a draw out of this game.”
@IndyCapeSportAfter scoring a hard-fought 34 at the top of the order against India, Temba Bavuma says he is “keen to do more of the opening job” for the Proteas.
Original source: Assured Bavuma wants to open