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|Theunis de Bruyn||15||14||2||0||107.14|
|AB de Villiers||28||26||4||1||107.69|
|Faf du Plessis||2||10||0||0||20.00|
|Theunis de Bruyn||1||8||0||0||12.50|
|AB de Villiers||126||146||20||1||86.30|
|Faf du Plessis||9||16||1||0||56.25|
|Quinton de Kock||9||20||0||0||45.00|
No test series between Australia and South Africa seems to be possible without controversy. This time, its accusations about personal jibes, chirping off the field, and a widely publicized meltdown by David Warner that have provided the spice to this series. The fact remains that Australia is leading the test series 1-0 and was easily the superior side. Can South Africa fight back in the second test or will the Aussies run all over them again?
A couple of candy floss series wins against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe may have given the false impression to South Africa that their home season is going to be spectacular. India, first and now Australia, have proven that they are a very beatable side even in home conditions.
The glaring problem for South Africa has been their batting. It is clear that the management was worried about their own batsmen as well as they asked the curators to prepare slower surfaces, unlike the ones that were prepared for India.
Unfortunately, that still did not allow them any respite. South Africa lost the first test when they were bowled out for 162 in their first inning. There were no real demons in the pitch but South Africa just failed to cope with the Aussie bowling.
The South African batsmen know what’s coming for them. Hazelwood will hold line and length at good pace while Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc will go for wickets at frightening pace. Nathan Lyon is also a legitimate threat on pitches that will offer him turn and bounce.
We cannot help but feel that the one batsman who can help turn this around is Hashim Amla. By batting in the top-3 and being very good against the spinners, Hashim Amla is uniquely positioned to help control the entire pace of the inning.
Dean Elgar is tough but not someone that will take the game to Australia and AB de Villiers always seems to be running out of partners by the time he comes to the crease. Amla, de Villiers, and Markram will be the players to push back against a ravenous Aussie attack.
It was also encouraging to see Theunis de Bruyn show some character and Quinton de Kock finally regain some form but these are not the batsmen we would depend on. The South African bowling was better in their second inning but still short of what they would like to see.
Morne Morkel has not threatened the edges enough while Vernon Philander is markedly less threatening on the slower pitches with less seam movement. The best two bowlers for South Africa have been Rabada and Maharaj.
We don’t think South Africa will make any changes in their side even though they were beaten quite comprehensively in the first match.
Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, VD Philander, K Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi.
Australia could not have asked for anything more than what its players produced in the first test. They scored plenty of runs and ran through the South African side twice. The only time they were ever challenged was when Aiden Markram and Quinton de Kock fought back during an improbable chase.
For the second test, the Aussies will have to guard against letting their intensity drop. David Warner has upped the stakes and ensured that the whole of South Africa and most of the neutral cricket-watching world will be gunning against the visitors when the match gets underway.
Australia may not mind the extra chatter and in fact, may actually thrive on it. We see similarities of the way Australia started its tour of India last year with a win but then lost intensity moving forward and eventually lost the series.
The biggest gain for Australia would be to see Cameron Bancroft get some runs in their second inning. He is, perhaps, the only batsman in the Australian team that is not assured of his place in the short term. With runs from Warner, Smith, the Marsh brothers, and even the lower order, Australia will be a very confident batting side.
Usman Khawaja is the only batsman who did not score too many and will be looking to rectify that in this match.
The only way that Australia will find itself in trouble is if it loses a few quick wickets early in the inning including that of their skipper. Whether the pitches will help South Africa achieve that is highly debatable.
As good as their batting was, the main strength of the Australians is their bowling. Mitchell Starc was absolutely brilliant in the first inning and finished with 9 wickets in the match. Most of his wickets were the lower order and the tail which allowed Australia to mop up the South African challenge very quickly.
Pat Cummins continued to bowl with pace throughout long spells and was unlucky not to have picked more wickets. He could easily be the one to trouble the South Africans the most in this match. There has been some talk of a drier surface than usual which would suit Nathan Lyon. The off-spinner has been brilliant over the last year and a half and is constantly threatening the opposition batsmen.
Lyon found things difficult in the second inning but expect him to come back stronger as well.
David Warner, CT Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Michael Lyon, JR Hazlewood.
Dry and sunny conditions have been forecast for the second test between South Africa and Australia. The pitch is naturally one of the slower ones in South Africa and should definitely offer some turn for the spinners. There is no doubt that the team winning the toss will bat first. We could see Maharaj and Lyon play central roles in the game from Day 3 onward.
The last victory for Australia means that they have now won the last two matches against South Africa. They also extended their excellent record in South Africa. We think, however, that the South Africans will be fired up for this match and will come out more aggressive than previously. We think they will out-bat Australia in this contest and that could win them the match.
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