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Australia vs South Africa: Second Test Preview

South Africa will be keen to drive home their advantage following a cracking win at the WACA earlier this week. 

A miraculous recovery coupled with some outstanding performances from Kagiso Rabada, Dean Elgar and JP Duminy ensured that South Africa head to Hobart with a 1-0 series lead.

With conditions in Tasmania wildly different from those in Perth, the players are going to need to acclimatise to the cold weather and the New Zealand-like wickets. And with the threat of rain around, one team will likely need to put in a dominating performance in order for a result to be achieved.

Australia vs South Africa | Saturday 12 Nov – Wednesday 16 Nov | Bellerive Oval | Hobart

To Win Match
Australia 31/10 | Draw 6/10 | South Africa 15/4

The Australians’ psyche can’t be in a good place at the moment. After being in such a commanding position following four sessions of play at the WACA, to losing in extraordinary circumstances, Steve Smith and his men can’t allow the shell-shock of the defeat to linger. With such a short turnaround time between the two Tests, Darren Lehmann will need his charges to refocus their efforts on Hobart in completely different conditions.

As well as the slower, New Zealand like wickets; Australian management have a bit of an injury crisis on their hands. Shaun Marsh will miss the remainder of the series after breaking his little finger in the field while Peter Siddle has been ruled out of the second Test with a back strain. Joe Burns and Joe Mennie are likely to come into the side with the latter set to make his Test bow after impressing for South Australia in the Sheffield Shield.

While the South Africans will be familiar with Mennie following his two ODIs in the Republic, Joe Burns remains a bit of an unknown to Russell Domingo and his brains trust. The Queensland opener hasn’t been in the greatest nick of late and will need to step up to the plate to fill the void left by Marsh who looked more than solid at the top of the order.

What I do think Burns will bring to the side is a bit of ice to David Warner’s fire. Burns is more than happy to play the accumulator role while Warner goes ballistic at the top of the order. Burns is far more patient and reserved than Marsh and might end up being a better option when it comes to seeing off the new ball against Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott.

Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will retain their places in the squad and will be desperate to recapture the form they showed in the first innings at the WACA, where they shared seven wickets between them, running through the South African top order.

Nathan Lyon will also have a bigger role to play in Hobart than he did in Perth. Conditions at the Bellerive Oval are similar to conditions in New Zealand where pace and bounce are at a premium and the spinners as well as the seamers find more joy than the out and out quicks.

Looking ahead, I’m not sure the Australians will be able to level the series in Hobart. There’s plenty of rain about on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. While weather predictions can change during the week, I very much doubt we’ll get a result here. A strong showing from the Australians is vital if rain intervenes. They’ll need all of the confidence they can get heading into the final Test in Adelaide.

South Africa
The Proteas will be in supremely confident mood heading to the island of Tasmania following their extraordinary victory in Perth.

South Africa’s victory was underlined by a few magical individual performances. Kagiso Rabada with the ball in the second innings, Dean Elgar and JP Duminy with the bat and Temba Bavuma’s all-round performance which will be remembered for one of the best run outs ever seen in the Test arena.

The side will have to put the thrill of the WACA behind them now as they prepare to take on a smarting Australian side. The only injury worry for the South Africans heading into the second Test is Dale Steyn who has had to return home for surgery for a stress fracture in his shoulder.

This means that either Kyle Abbott or Morne Morkel will need to come into the side with Dwaine Pretorius flying out to join the squad as cover. I’m of the opinion that Abbott will crack the nod ahead of Morkel for the second Test. Where Morkel likes to steam in and hit the deck just short of a length, Abbot is happier pitching the ball up and allowing it to swing.

The deck at the Bellerive Oval behaves similarly to those in New Zealand where full, swinging deliveries offer maximum value. This combined with the fact that Morkel might not be fully fit will see Abbott get a rare chance to showcase his skills for the national side.

Other than that, the only other change I can see taking place is Stephen Cook getting the axe following a terrible display in the first Test. I’d love to see Rilee Rossouw crack the nod ahead of Cook with Hashim Amla being bumped up the order to open with Elgar. Rossouw has been in magnificent touch of late, showing how much he has matured as a player in the recently concluded ODI series against Australia. It’s about time he got a proper run in the Test side.

As confident as the South Africans are at the moment, I don’t know whether or not a result will be achievable with the amount of rain set to fall in Hobart during the Test. If the rain does come, Domingo will want his charges to further dent the Australians’ confidence by putting in another dominant display before the day/night Test in Adelaide.

Verdict: Draw 6/10
There’s simply too much rain around for me to tip anything other than a draw. At 6/10 there’s still decent value if you get on early before the price shortens. 

Value Bet: Joe Burns to top score for Australia 45/10
Joe Burns comes into the side for the injured Shaun Marsh and could be good value to top score. He’s a quality batsmen who recently grabbed a cracking 129 for Queensland in a Sheffield Shield match against a New South Wales in the side that included Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon. Warner has to be respected as the favourite in this market, although the nature of the wicket may suit Burns more.

Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.

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