SA vs Australia: May the best batting team win

2014-02-12 09:57

The two teams who face off today have come off the back of rather contrasting series.

Australia hardly broke a sweat in regaining the Ashes before motoring to an easy 5-0 hammering of the hapless English tourists. On the other hand, South Africa needed all 30 sessions of the two-match series against India to ensure that their four-year unbeaten record at home remained intact.

Not to be forgotten, Australia were the last test team to beat South Africa on these shores and the core of that team has made its way back to the country. They will try to blow each other’s heads off with ballistic bowling attacks, but Australia’s batting is not so convincing when on the road, so it will be the team that bats best that will ultimately prevail.

» Key match-up: The captains versus the key fast bowlers.

Dale Steyn and Mitchell Johnson will be tasked with making sure that the opposing captains have the worst time at the crease.

Graeme Smith will know what Johnson is capable of, especially after having his hand broken by the same bowler twice in 2009.

When Steyn got Michael Clarke early, especially in Australia, the Aussie batting folded quite meekly.

When the captain falls, the team follows very quickly as they are the windows to the team’s confidence.

» Team news: Both captains pronounced clean bills of health, but Australia already declared earlier in the week that all-rounder Shane Watson has been ruled out of the first test with a calf strain.

With Ashes number six George Bailey not making the trip, the Australian batting line-up will have a new look to it.

As for the Proteas, the absence of Jacques Kallis means big boots will have to be filled. With the pitch having a green tinge, batting-stacked line-ups could be the order of the day. SuperSport Park in Centurion is a ground where the team that wins the toss normally bowls first.

» Starting time: 10.30am

» Probable teams:

South Africa: Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (wk), JP Duminy, Dean Elgar/Ryan McLaren, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel

Australia: David Warner, Chris Rogers, Phil Hughes/Shaun Marsh, Michael Clarke, Steven Smith, Shaun Marsh/Moises Henriques, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon

» What the captains said:

South African captain Smith’s opinion about Australia’s trash-talking: “The Aussies have been good for ticket and newspaper sales, which has been beneficial from that perspective, but for us it has been business as usual.”

Australian captain Clarke on how the batting line-ups will fare: “We still have to find out about that, don’t we? Both teams will have to bat well because there will be two good bowling attacks. It’s going to be a challenge for the batters.”

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