The Proteas will be eager to stamp their authority on the Test series when it starts in Centurion on Wednesday.
South Africa has a proud record at the ground, having only ever lost twice. The pace and bounce suit the makeup of the Proteas traditional strength, but they were taught a lesson by a Mitchell Johnson inspired Australia last time out. Apart from getting off to a good start in the first of three Tests, the hosts will also be desperate to reinstall the venue as a fortress.
The West Indies have not enjoyed a lot of success with the red ball on South African shores. However, they did record their first win on their previous visit to Port Elizabeth, which is the venue that will host the Boxing Day Test. They will be confident of a repeat performance, but first they will have to withstand a pace barrage at SuperSport Park.
Players to watch:
The outfield is quick and the air is thin, so if a batsman gets in, there are plenty of runs to be had at Centurion. However, there is always enough for the bowlers if they are willing to bend their backs. Dale Steyn has been deadly at the venue in the past and since it’s been some time since the Proteas last wore the white clothing, he will be chomping at the bit to add some sticks to his tally.
For the West Indies, they will have to bat well in the first innings and post a big total if they are going to be competitive. Marlon Samuels showed in the warm-up game that he is capable of doing just that with a blistering double-hundred. He will bat No 4 and without Chris Gayle and Darren Bravo in the side, a lot will rest on his shoulders.
South Africa’s batsmen are well equipped to deal with the bounce at Centurion, while their bowlers will be very excited at the prospect of bowling on a wicket with a bit of life in it after their last two tours to Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, respectively. For this reason, the Proteas should win comfortably and take a 1-0 series lead.
Preview compiled by Gareth Stevens.