Melbourne:Matthew Hayden might be battling for his career but the South Africans did not give him any respite as they plotted his downfall with a plan to suffocate him and play rash shots in the third Test at the SCG.
South African bowling coach Vinnie Barnes revealed that the Proteas bowlers had a well-laid plan to frustrate the struggling opener into playing rash shots.
The visitors bowled wide of the wicket to Hayden and deployed a barrage of off-side fielders, including short covers, to frustrate the 37-year-old who scratched his way to 31 in almost three hours of painstaking batting at the SCG.
"We are trying to just block the runs and it's working. We have put fielders in positions that we felt were the areas he was looking to score," Barnes said.
"There were a few loose shots from him and a few unusual shots played by him. He is lacking confidence and there is a lot of pressure on him at the moment," he was quoted as saying by 'Herald Sun'.
Hayden never looked like the batting bruiser of old as he eked out his runs off 78 deliveries on the opening day, finally dragging a Dale Steyn delivery on to his stumps to end the agony.
Hayden, playing in his 103rd Test, has amassed 8555 Test runs at an average of over 50, and his 30 Test centuries have been surpassed by only two Australians, Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh.
But he has struggled for runs since an achilles injury sent him home from the West Indies. In nine Tests since then - four in India, two at home against New Zealand and the three-Test series against South Africa - he has scraped together 344 runs at less than 23.
His five innings against Graeme Smith's visitors have yielded just 78 runs at less than 16.