Your essential guide to the second Test between the Proteas and Australia at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth.
Round two begins. The Proteas need to shift their attention away from the off-field controversy and focus on how they are going to win the second Test in Port Elizabeth.
Mentally, the Proteas senior batsmen have been poor. It seems they are overthinking their dip in form and straying from their game plan. They need to remove themselves from any unnecessary distractions and focus on the basics.
Mitchell Starc has been excellent, finding dangerous reverse swing, but he hasn’t been completely unplayable. The Proteas need to be patient when facing him by blocking or leaving the good deliveries while punishing any loose balls and pouncing on the short ones.
Nathan Lyon has been decent. The spinner has been getting quick flight through the air, so unlike the India spinners, the Proteas should find it easier to face him (batting coach Dale Benkenstein, after the second ODI against India, mentioned that it was the slow-spin that took the Proteas by surprise).
The first Test was lost due to one specific reason and it is not the Proteas’ bowling. Despite Faf du Plessis’ comments about the Proteas bowlers improving their death bowling, it’s the senior batsmen who need to step up and lift the pressure off the Proteas tail. The top order must rise to their full potential and take their time to get their eye in.
ALSO READ: Faf calls for ruthless tail-end bowling
Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla and Du Plessis need to be solid and play grinding innings, so that Aiden Markram, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock can express themselves freely. Theunis de Bruyn is not needed, bringing in Lungi Ngidi will solve the Proteas’ bowling frailties for sure.
Temba Bavuma could also be an option to replace De Bruyn if the Proteas stick to their seven-batsmen mould.
ALSO READ: Faf: Bavuma an option
Yes, if the Proteas had managed to dismiss the Australia tail in the first innings at Kingsmead, they would have saved in excess of 75 runs, preventing Australia from reaching the 300-run mark. But 351 should not be a difficult first-innings total to chase, with the talent and experience in the Proteas’ arsenal.
Pitch and conditions:
Du Plessis said he expects a similar wicket to Durban, one that is slow and at times produces tennis-ball bounce. The Proteas skipper also confirmed that the overhead conditions will play a role in the match. Cloudy, overcast and humid conditions will make reverse-swing more deadly.
Players to watch:
Morne Morkel had an average start to his final Test series. The only wickets he took came in Australia’s second innings and he finished with match figures of 3-112. He will need to step up.
Keshav Maharaj was South Africa’s star of the first Test, taking career-best match figures of 9-225. He bowled 63.2 overs and held up the end beautifully while striking at crucial stages of the game.
There’s no doubt that Starc needs to be stopped. The Australia left-arm paceman bowled with precision, accuracy and speed in the first Test. His reverse swing was vital to the Proteas’ demise. He finished with match figures of 9-109, but mainly hassled the Proteas tail.
All eyes will be on both sides’ senior batsmen.
David Warner will be dangerous. He has the incentive to punish the Proteas after he was fined 75% of his match fee and given three demerit points as punishment for the tunnel row with De Kock. He has an average of 56.00 against the Proteas, which includes four fifties and four hundreds. He scored 79 runs in the first Test, including 51 in Australia’s first inning, and will be riled up to retaliate against South Africa.
The Proteas will probably stay with the same XI. But if it was up to me, I would drop De Bruyn for Ngidi. The 21-year-old is good at restricting the tail and will be a surprise package against Australia.
Proteas XI (probable): 1 Dean Elgar, 2 Aiden Markram, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Faf du Plessis (capt), 6. Theunis de Bruyn 7 Quinton de Kock (wk), 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Keshav Maharaj, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Morne Morkel,
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.
– Four of the top five highest run-scorers at St George’s Park are playing in the second Test. Dean Elgar (451), AB de Villiers (437), Faf du Plessis (423) and Hashim Amla (401).
– South Africa have played Australia six times at St George’s Park. The Proteas won three and lost three.
– Dean Elgar needs 123 runs to reach 3,000 Test runs.
– Morne Morkel needs three wickets to reach 300 Test wickets.
– Vernon Philander needs nine wickets to reach 200 Test wickets.
What they said:
Faf du Plessis press conference:
Steve Smith press conference:
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