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HomeAustralia Cricket2nd Test Preview: South Africa v Australia - enough talk, let's play!

2nd Test Preview: South Africa v Australia – enough talk, let’s play!

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Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

The headlines have been dominated by David Warner vs Quinton De Kock.

What was said?

Was it an overreaction?

Who started it?

For me, who cares.

It’s cricket time, and in a series as high profile as this, I think it’s best we talk about the cricket instead.

South Africa were incredibly passive in the first Test. I didn’t see the aggression and intent that South Africa are often associated with, and for me, that began on the first day even before they were bundled for 162. Improvement in performance begins with improvement in mindset, and I’m interested to see if the events of the last few days will spark some more Protea fire in the belly. Of course, the performances of Aiden Markram and Quinton De Kock in the second innings were a major positive, and the Proteas should be looking to build on this.

Australia were very impressive in the first Test, taking advantage of South Africa’s passive approach, and making their mark on the series. Mitchell Marsh and the middle order were key in helping Australia reach 351 in Durban, but the Aussies will need better conversion of starts at the top of the order. Mitchell Starc joined the party with a dominant performance (9 wickets in the Test), and if South Africa don’t find a better way to play him, as well as the entire Australian attack, the Aussies will be enjoying a 2-0 series lead. Nathan Lyon will again have a key role, especially considering the track is expected to be dry and slow, so it might be worth attacking him from a South African perspective.

Key to a South Africa win

These are frustrating times for South Africa’s batsmen. Dating back to the series against India, they have failed to put together a complete batting performance.

Across different innings, one or two players will perform well, but without support from others. For example, AB De Villiers was superb in the opening two Tests against India and in the first innings in Durban in this series, but the the top order was outclassed. Then, Aiden Markram scored big in the second, but AB De Villiers was run out. Another is Hashim Amla’s brilliance in the third Test against India, but nothing in Durban vs Australia, and Dean Elgar’s magnificent effort in the second innings in Johannesburg v India recently, but a quiet first Test vs Australia.

The key for South Africa is to display more belief and aggression in this Test, and that can transfer to their batting. They are in desperate need for a complete batting effort, with partnerships right throughout the innings. There is no more important time than now.

Aiden Markram was superb in Durban

Key to an Australia win

Get into the South Africa top order early.
If Australia can expose South Africa’s middle order again, that will go a long way to a 2-0 series lead. Australia possess the best bowling attack in the world because of their ability to take wickets even in conditions that aren’t too helpful. The pitch in Port Elizabeth is predicted to be dry, so wickets up top with the ball can expose the middle order to Nathan Lyon and reverse swing later in the innings.

Mitchell Starc was unstoppable in Durban

Predicted teams:

South Africa should stick with a similar team to the one that lost in Durban. However, a change they may make is Temba Bavuma in for Theunis De Bruyn. Also, how the fast bowlers perform will have a big say in whether they can level the series. David Warner and Steve Smith are the two big wickets, and extra belief and intent from the South African bowlers can help them achieve this. They’ll certainly be keen to target David Warner, for obvious reasons. Also, the battle between Keshav Maharaj and Nathan Lyon will be fascinating on a slow, dry Port Elizabeth track.
South Africa XI: 1. Dean Elgar, 2. Aiden Markram, 3. Hashim Amla, 4. AB de Villiers, 5. Faf Du Plessis (c), 6. Temba Bavuma, 7. Quinton De Kock (wk), 8. Vernon Philander, 9. Keshav Maharaj, 10. Kagiso Rabada, 11. Morne Morkel
Australia will stick with the same XI that won in Durban, with Cameron Bancroft locking down his place for at least another Test after a half century in the second innings.
Australia XI: 1. Cameron Bancroft, 2. David Warner, 3. Usman Khawaja, 4. Steve Smith (c), 5. Shaun Marsh, 6. Mitchell Marsh, 7. Tim Paine (wk), 8. Patrick Cummins, 9. Mitchell Starc, 10. Nathan Lyon, 11. Josh Hazlewood

Stats and Facts:

  • This is only Australia’s second Test in Port Elizabeth in the last 20 years. They lost their one game, when Dale Steyn went on a reverse swing rampage in 2014.
  • Morne Morkel needs three wickets to reach 300 in Tests.
  • If Australia win this Test, they will be just one win away from second place in the Test rankings (provided South Africa don’t win a Test in this series).

Prediction:

The pitch is again expected to be slow. However, I saw some good fight from South Africa in the second innings, and I genuinely believe they can still win the series.
In my opinion, Australia don’t necessarily have the better team on paper, but rather, showed a lot more intent and belief in Durban. I predict South Africa will show more of this and put on an a better showing in this Test to level the series 1-1. Looking forward to a good contest.

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Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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