About the Match
After a disappointing tour of India, South Africa gets geared up to host England in a 4-match Test series that starts with the 1st Test at Durban on 26th December. England has won only one of the four tests played this year, suffering heavy defeat against Pakistan recently and they will need to pull up their socks and fight with determination if they want to beat the hosts in their own backyard. South Africa goes into the series continuing to be the No.1 test side but its recent dismal performance against India exposed some weaknesses, which the visitors will try their best to exploit.
Dale Steyn is back in the squad after clearing the fitness test and the home conditions are well suited for him to shine yet again; Morne Morkel is in tremendous form and he yet again proved to be a great asset during the recent India tour. Although Vernon Philander is out due to injury, Kyle Abbott and Kagiso Rabada provide great depth to their pace attack.
In the batting line-up, captainHashimAmla can pack a punch when it comes to building strong foundations; along with experienced players like AB de Villiers, JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis, South Africa can definitely try to dominate the English bowlers here. Players like Rilee Rossouw, Stiaan van Zyl and Temba Bavuma bring their all-rounder skills to the table; Deal Elgar, Dane Piedt and other part-timers can use their spin bowling tactics to surprise the opposition.
Overall, the team has very good talent and experienced stalwarts, who have been performing well consistently to keep their team on top of the rankings; they will be a formidable force to reckon with, especially when playing at familiar home conditions.
James Anderson’s injury issues have cast a shadow on England’s pace bowling department in the first test; Chris Woakes might join Stuart Broad, Steve Finn and Ben Stokes to provide the depth in their seam attack. Moeen Ali has been in good form as he took 6-77 in the tour match recently; his spin bowling combined with the famed English pace attack can definitely be a challenging contest to the hosts.
With the bat, Alistair Cook, Joe Root, Alex Hales and Ben Stokes showed their good form during the tour match and they will be strong pillars for the team. Jonny Bairstow, Gary Balance, Jos Buttler and James Taylor make up the middle order and will focus on stabilizing the innings.
The English have a good batting line-up that will surely try to come out all guns blazing to put up a stiff challenge. If the pace bowlers can exploit the favourable conditions here to outwit the hosts, it will give a good advantage to the batsmen to dominate the field and claim their lost glory.
It will definitely be a contest between the strong pace attacks from both sides; however, the team that can establish supremacy with the bat under tough conditions will be better placed to take the lead here. Although England has a talented set of match-winners, we feel South Africa with the home advantage will emerge victorious in the first test of the series