England batting coach Graham Thorpe says there is belief in the dressing room that they can pull off an unlikely victory in the first Test against South Africa.
The tourists were set a target of 376 to win – meaning they would need to beat their highest-ever run chase in a Test match.
Rory Burns led the fightback with an unbeaten 77 to leave England 121 for one at the close of play on day three.
Thorpe told talkSPORT: “We’ve given ourselves a chance, which is pleasing. It has been a bit of a battle this week. We’ve chatted about the character in the dressing room every day and at the end of the day. It’s pleasing.
“First innings with the bat we weren’t pleased. We worked hard with the ball and it’s not easy in these conditions to bowl every day, especially after the first day. We are happy to be in the position we are. We will take it.
“Let’s hope we can take it really deep in this match. The one thing in our dressing room is we will believe we have a chance.
“We know we have a long, hard way to go in the game but if we have a good first session again tomorrow then they will become a bit more nervous as well.
“They will be saying ‘get a couple of wickets and the game is over’ but we know we have a lot of fight in our dressing room.
“We wanted to get a lead but we didn’t and we are going to have to do it the hard way now.
“But players, we want them to keep learning. We have to be a bit more ruthless when we get in and we have to understand what shots we can play on the surface as well. Those conversations get had in the dressing room as the lads reflect. You can’t be pecking away at them all day long. They have to actually learn and stand up for themselves. That’s what international cricket is all about.”
Openers Burns and Dom Sibley shared a 92 run opening partnership, the biggest for England in 2019, before the latter was out for 29.
Thorpe was pleased with what he saw from both openers.
He added: “We know with Rory, it’s his 15th Test match, but he has shown real signs of character and understanding of how to go about his business at the top.
“He got a little bit of luck but you have to make sure you get through that as well and try to make them pay, so it’s good for him to be not out at the end.
“We know what Dom’s strength is. He has great concentration as a player. It’s his third Test match so he is going to have some anxiety at times so we have to try and make him feel relaxed – to trust him to play his own game.
“He will develop. I like what I see for him and it’s not an easy opening attack with Rabada and Philander to come against as they are going to challenge your technique.”
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