Keshav Maharaj credits South Africa's coaching staff for vital lower-order runs

Keshav Maharaj has credited South Africa's coaching staff for the invaluable contributions with the bat from the team's lower order in recent Test matches.

Maharaj's primary role in the Proteas team is that of a left-arm spinner but he has also had some significant contributions with the bat in the longest format. 

In the first Test against England at Lord's last week, the 32-year-old walked to the crease with the tourists on 210-6, only a slender 45-run lead on the first innings.

Maharaj then took the attack to the England bowlers, carving out 41 off 48 balls in a partnership of 62 for the seventh wicket with Marco Jansen.

Jansen went on to hit 47 while Anrich Nortje scored 28 to take the total to 326 all out and 161-run lead.

The spinner then displayed his all-round capabilities, picking up the first two English wickets in the second innings with the tourists eventually cantering to an innings and 12-run victory to go 1-0 in the three-match series.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the second Test that starts in Manchester on Thursday, Maharaj said: "When (Proteas coach Mark) Boucher took over, he really wanted to work on the middle-to-lower order, in terms of contributing because we know how vital those 50-60 runs can be from numbers 7/8/9/10/11.

"If you observe our nets, you will see a lot of the bowlers actually spending a lot of time facing bowlers, getting throws from Bouch, Sammo (batting coach Justin Sammons), and Onty (fielding coach Justin Ontong).

"The guys really are putting in the effort with us, and it's nice to see that we're getting the rewards. A lot of it is due to hard work that Boucher has implemented with us.

"Sammo has been an exceptional man for our batting unit as a whole, but in particular encouraging the lower order in terms of topping up on our skill, and taking care of the nitty gritty that we need to and it's good to see the dividends now."

The Proteas suffered a middle-order batting collapse at the Home of Cricket after openers Sarel Erwee (73) and Dean Elgar (47) had given the team a solid platform to build on with a stand of 85.

Aiden Markram has failed to transfer his T20 form into the longest format, averaging just 16.77 in Tests this year, while Rassie van der Dussen averages 27.37 in the same period with no centuries.

When asked if the top-order are perhaps taking it for granted that the bowlers are stepping up with vital runs, Maharaj said: "I don't think it's a case of the guys relying on the middle-to-lower order to score the runs.

"As a batting unit you are always wanting to score more centuries. Our top six/seven are very driven to score centuries.

"I am sure we are going to see some centuries in the second and third Tests. SJ (Sarel Erwee) showed really good signs of application, and just the way he went about his business, as well as Dean.

"The opening partnership really set the foundation for us, the middle order probably didn't fire in the last Test, but we know the quality they possess. They have been working really hard, and the game in Kent showed what they can do."

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