Your essential guide to the third Test between the Proteas and Australia at Newlands.
The entire build-up to this Test has been about Kagiso Rabada, who successfully overturned his two-match ban.
Rabada’s inclusion in the Proteas team is great for the match. It has added to the fiery tension between the teams. There’s been a lot of debate about whether he should be playing, but the decision has been made.
From a neutral’s perspective, Rabada’s inclusion has amplified the intensity of the Test.
For the ultimate contest to take place, both sides need to field their best players and without a shadow of a doubt, Rabada – being the world’s No 1 Test bowler – adds extra competitiveness to the clash.
With the sides level at 1-1, a Newlands Test could not come at a better time. Unlike Durban and Port Elizabeth, expect big crowds who will add vigour and spark to the occasion.
Both teams will be desperate to go into the final Test at the Wanderers with a 2-1 series lead.
Pitch and conditions:
A green top is expected, as is hot weather throughout the Test, with slightly overcast conditions on day one.
Newlands groundsman Evan Flint craves a five-day Test and has been given the go-ahead to prepare the pitch to his liking.
The last Test at Newlands was the New Year Test against India. The match ended in three days, with 40 wickets falling for only 760 runs, an average of 19 runs per batsman.
But Flint does not expect the same outcome.
Players to watch:
Dean Elgar has had a slow start to the year. His average is 35.84 in five matches, with three fifties and zero tons. On a Newlands wicket that has known to be lively over the years, the opener will be key to getting the Proteas off to a solid start. Good batting will determine the outcome of the game and a gritty knock from Elgar will frustrate the Aussies.
Steve Smith is key for the visitors. He is the world’s No 1 Test batsman and if he is kept quiet, the Proteas have a massive chance of winning the match. Smith’s top score in the series so far is 56. He has scored 130 runs at 32.50 and clearly struggled to get going.
Faf du Plessis mentioned that there could be two changes. Theunis de Bruyn and Lungi Ngidi could be replaced by Temba Bavuma and Morne Morkel.
Proteas XI: 1 Aiden Markram, 2 Dean Elgar, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Faf du Plessis (capt), 6 Temba Bavuma 7 Quinton de Kock (wk), 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Kagiso Rabada 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Keshav Maharaj
Steve Smith confirmed that they will pick the same side.
Australia XI: 1 Cameron Bancroft, 2 David Warner, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Steven Smith (capt), 5 Shaun Marsh, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Tim Paine (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Josh Hazlewood, 11 Nathan Lyon.
– Morne Morkel needs three wickets to reach 300 Test wickets.
– Dean Elgar needs 61 runs to reach 3,000 Test runs.
– South Africa have only beaten Australia three times at Newlands. Their last victory came in 2011 when they won by eight wickets.
What they said:
Faf du Plessis:
The third Test starts at Newlands on Thursday at 10:30.
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