Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wounded Australia promise improved show

Australia will not mind having to play over five days as long as they are able to square the two-test series against South Africa. The second test match starts on Thursday at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. After an action-packed first test that saw the game see-saw within hours and wrapped up inside three days, both sides will be wary of avoiding a repeat of their colossal batting collapses.

Australia have a few changes to make and they will be hoping these changes come good. Back injury to Shaun Marsh has ruled him out of the remaining matches and David Warner has been flown in as replacement. However, Usman Khawaja, the first Muslim to represent Australia, is likely to be take Marsh’s spot in the playing eleven. Another prospective change is to award the baggy green to fast-bowler Pat Cummins, at the expense of either Peter Siddle or the usually-inconsistent Mitchell Johnson, both of whom picked up one wicket apiece in the first test.

South Africa, despite their batting succumbing miserably in the first innings at Cape Town, are likely to resist making changes. Opener Jacques Rudolph, although failed in both innings, is likely to be given an extended run on his return from exile. Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla stamped their authority with aggressive centuries and the rest of the batting order will hope to take cue from it. Vernon Philander’s impressive show on debut means the bowling unit also looks relatively stable. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel will be keen on extracting the maximum out of the pacer-friendly pitch at the Wanderers.

The Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg is known for its pacer-friendly pitches and both the teams will be looking to make maximum use of it. If Australia need some motivation going into the match, they must remember that they have won their test match at Johannesburg each time on their four previous tours, dating back to 1997. Jacques Kallis has a strong record at the ground, being the only batsman with over 1000 test runs.

The match may witness frequent rain interruptions with short thundershowers expected through the next seven days.

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