Your essential guide to the final Test between the Proteas and Australia at the Wanderers.
Offensive sledging, demerit points, suspended CSA officials, banned players, ball-tampering and Darren Lehmann resigning as Australia coach – what more is left for this whirlwind series?
The Proteas are poised to win their first home series against Australia since readmission. Coach Ottis Gibson confirmed that a ruthless approach will be maintained as they attempt to knock out a wounded Aussie side in the final round of this enthralling bout.
What South Africa must ensure is that they avoid complacency and keep their foot on Australia’s throat before wrapping up the series 3-1 and sending them back home.
All signs point towards a Proteas victory, with the team selection being key. The last time South Africa played a Test at the Johannesburg ground was against India, on a dangerous pitch which worked against the hosts in their 63-run defeat.
Australia will be missing top batsmen Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, with Matt Renshaw, Joe Burns and Glenn Maxwell being called up to the squad.
There was a further shock when Lehmann announced on Thursday that the Wanderers Test would be his last as coach.
ALSO READ: Lehmann to quit after fourth Test
Australia’s newly appointed captain, Tim Paine, will have a tough time getting the best out of his team, whose mental state will have been affected by the events of the past week.
Gauteng has received heavy rain this past week but sunny conditions are expected for the first two days of the Test. Rain is predicted for Sunday only, with temperatures throughout the five days forecasted to be in the mid-20s.
The Wanderers pitch for the third Test between the Proteas and India produced a lot of unexpected deviations and was given a ‘poor’ rating by the ICC. The groundsmen will be in the spotlight once again and are said to have produced a wicket that is bouncy, with a little in it for the batsmen.
Du Plessis confirmed that no conversations have taken place between him and the head groundsman.
Players to watch:
Paine is averaging 48.66 in the series, with his highest score being 36, and will be desperate for a massive knock in his first Test as captain.
Morne Morkel will get one last game in the Proteas whites. The lanky speedster was crucial to the Proteas’ dominance over the Baggy Greens in Cape Town, finishing with career-best figures of 9-110, and will have the chance to say his final goodbye. A bouncy Wanderers wicket will suit him perfectly.
While I believe Lungi Ngidi should come in for Keshav Maharaj, Du Plessis confirmed that they will keep the same XI.
Proteas XI: 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.
Smith, Bancroft and Warner’s bans mean Renshaw and Burns are almost certain to start. while there’s a toss-up between Maxwell and Peter Handscomb for the No 4/5 spot.
Australia XI: 1 Matt Renshaw, 2 Joe Burns, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Shaun Marsh, 5 Peter Handscomb/Glenn Maxwell, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Tim Paine (c), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Josh Hazlewood, 11 Nathan Lyon.
– The last time Australia played a Test without Smith and Warner was at the Wanderers in 2011.
– Paine will be the fifth wicketkeeper to captain Australia in a Test, after Billy Murdoch, Jack Blackham, Barry Jarman and Adam Gilchrist.
– Pat Cummins returns to the venue where he made his famous Test debut in 2011. He was named Man of the Match.
– Over the past decade, the Proteas have won three, lost four and drawn one out of eight Test matches at the Wanderers. This includes defeats to Australia in 2009 and 2011.
What they said:
Faf du Plessis:
Darren Lehmann resigns:
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