The Proteas have won the toss and will bat first at the Wanderers in the fourth and final Test.
After all the drama and controversy this past week, it boils down to this – a series decider at the Wanderers between two proud cricket nations.
But will it be an even contest?
Australia are missing three key batsmen from their 322-run capitulation in Cape Town: Cameron Bancroft, David Warner and Steve Smith have been banned for ball tampering and Matt Renshaw, Joe Burns and Glenn Maxwell were flown in as potential replacements.
Twenty-one-year-old opener Renshaw will be partnered by Joe Burns.
Renshaw’s debut came against South Africa in 2016 in Adelaide, where he formed part of a winning side. He scored 10 and 34 not out to seal a seven-wicket win in the third Test. The Proteas won that series 2-1.
Burns’ last Test came against the Proteas in Hobart where he partnered Warner and only managed to score one and a duck. The visitors claimed an 80-run victory.
The major toss-up was always around who would replace Smith. Australia decided to go with Peter Handscomb, who debuted against the Proteas in Adelaide and scored 54 batting at No 5. He will slot in at No 4 as Smith’s replacement.
Mitchell Starc has also been replaced by Chadd Sayers, who will be making his Test debut. Starc has been ruled out of the fourth Test and the Indian Premier League due to a tibial bone stress fracture in his right leg.
The Proteas will field an unchanged XI from their 322-run win in Cape Town. The key for the hosts will be to expose Australia’s new additions as the visitors seek redemption with a series-levelling win.
The Proteas’ record is poor at the Wanderers. In their last eight Tests at the Johannesburg ground, they have won three, lost four and drawn one, which includes defeats to Australia in 2009 and 2011.
Du Plessis’ decision to bat was based on the browness of the wicket, which is far from the typical green-top Wanderers turf.
Proteas – 1 Aiden Markram, 2 Dean Elgar, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Faf du Plessis (c), 6 Quinton de Kock, 7 Temba Bavuma, 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Keshav Maharaj, 11 Morne Morkel.
Australia – 1 Matt Renshaw, 2 Joe Burns, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Peter Handscomb, 5 Shaun Marsh, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Tim Paine (c), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Nathan Lyon, 10 Chadd Sayers, 11 Josh Hazlewood.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images