South Africa vs Australia: Second Test Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

We preview the second Test between South Africa and Australia set to take place between 9 March and 13 March at St. George's Park. 

Following an emphatic 118-run win down in Durban, the Australians will look to build on their momentum as the tour moves down the coast from Kingsmead to St. George’s Park. This comes amid a storm of controversy with David Warner’s and Quinton de Kock’s verbal spat being caught on CCTV outside the Kingsmead change rooms. Both players have subsequently been charged by the ICC with Warner accepting his level two breach of the Code of Conduct while de Kock will appeal his level one offence. 

Of course, this simply adds more bite to what was always going to a spicy series. The Proteas will hope that they can capitalise at a ground where they’re undefeated in five Tests while the Aussies will no doubt look to further deflate the hosts’ confidence.

South Africa vs Australia | 9 March – 13 March | St. George’s Park, Port Elizabeth 

To Win Match
South Africa 37/20
Draw 15/4
Australia 9/10

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South Africa 
The Proteas would have no doubt been stung by their 118-run defeat in Durban. Of course, the losing margin could have been far greater had Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock and to a lesser extent, Theunis de Bruyn not dug their heels in on day four. 

Although de Bruyn played well for his 36 in the second innings, I don’t think it’ll be enough for him to keep his place in the side if Temba Bavuma has recovered from injury. Bavuma adds some much-needed stability to the South African middle order which looked vulnerable against Mitchell Starc and co. 

Hashim Amla is also under big pressure following another disappointing outing. Heinrich Klaasen is waiting in the wings after impressing in the intermediate and shortest formats against India recently. While not a natural number three, he has recently batted four for his franchise and could well do a job for the Proteas at first drop. His first-class average of 45.40 suggests he’s no mug and is probably ready for go at this level. 

Markram and de Kock returning to form is great news for the South African camp, although more will be required from skipper Faf du Plessis. You also feel that Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada will spend a bit more time in the nets this week after collectively failing with the bat in the face of some truly outstanding bowling from Starc. 

Bowling-wise, you feel the South Africans are where they need to be. Maharaj was magnificent, taking nine wickets in the match with Philander and Rabada putting in characteristically solid performances. Even Morne Morkel came back well in the second innings after receiving plenty of flak for a below-par showing in the first innings in Durban.

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Australia
The Australians couldn’t have asked for a better start to their tour. All of the batsmen – with the exception of Usman Khawaja – made meaningful contributions while the four main bowlers were once again exemplary as they’d been throughout the Ashes.

Starc was the pick of the attack and deservedly picked up the man of the match award finishing with match figures of 28.4-5-109-9. Steve Smith will be looking to the spearhead of his wildly talented bowling attack to repeat the trick in Port Elizabeth. Of course, Lyon will have a much more important role to play down in the Windy City where conditions are generally more conducive to slower bowling than anywhere else in the Republic.

There will be a ton of pressure on Warner in Port Elizabeth following the torrent of verbal abuse he aimed at de Kock in Durban. The South African players as well as the crowd will no doubt be on his back from the very first ball. It’s up to the New South Wales native to respond in his characteristically dogged manner. 

The Aussies won’t have happy memories of this ground. They were comprehensively trounced here in 2014 as the hosts ran out 231-run winners. The South Africans were a far more settled unit back then, though. You feel that if they are to win the second Test it will be a much closer contest. 

Verdict: South Africa 37/20
I’m definitely on the fence a bit here. Having said that, I don’t think the South Africans are as bad as their 37/20 price seems to suggest. There is massive value on the home win here at 37/20 at a ground where they haven’t tasted defeat in five Tests. 

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Written by Jason Dewey for Hollywoodbets

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