Monday, November 7, 2011

South Africa face Australia challenge on return to test cricket

Jacques Kallis has scored eight centuries at Cape TownOnce the top two sides in the world, South Africa and Australia head into an unusually-short two-test series starting from Wednesday. Cape Town will present the home side its first test match since the New Year’s test against India. Australia, on the other hand, are gradually picking up under Michael Clarke, with ODI series already in the bag and having shared the T20 series.

Australia have every reason to feel confident going into the series. They won their last series in Sri Lanka, with their batting holding up under testing conditions. In addition, the tour match against South Africa A provided valuable opportunity for their key players to strike form. Most of their top order was amongst the runs. The only worry would be Ricky Ponting who got a start but failed to capitalize. Phil Hughes has good memories of his last tour here and should help his confidence. Amongst the bowlers, Mitchell Johnson, often highly-rated but disappointing, finished with a 9-wkt match haul. Spin continues to be the cause of concern for them as Nathan Lyon failed to impress in the tour game.

For South Africa, the short series means they have to strike the right combination immediately. Graeme Smith returns to lead the side, having conceded captaincy in the shorter versions. AB De Villiers returns from his injury. Also back in the squad after five years is Jacques Rudolph. Add to that Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla and South Africa have a formidable batting line-up. The bowling, while strong on paper, will have to be on their toes to be effective. Surprisingly welcome would be the variety in their attack, something not commonly associated with South African bowling. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir gets his first call up while Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel will look to rack up some pace early on.

South Africa have not lost a test at Cape Town since March 2006 when Australia defeated them. Only Michael Hussey and Ponting survive from that Australian team. Jacques Kallis has scored eight centuries at Newlands.

The match may witness the odd rain interruption, but the weather overall looks good.

No comments:

Post a Comment