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AUS v SA, 2nd Test Preview: Faltering Australia aims for redemption at Hobart

Faf du Plessis of South Africa
HOBART, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 11: Bellerive Oval curator Marcus Pamplin speaks with Faf du Plessis of South Africa and Russell Domingo, coach of South Africa as they check the pitch during the South African nets session at Blundstone Arena on November 11, 2016 in Hobart, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The first Test at Perth saw a discombobulated Australia face up to the might of the Proteas. However, this time around, with a change in venue, a regular Australian hunting ground, the Faf du Plessis-led unit will be in a spot of bother. While Bill Lawry has called by many to be patient with Steve Smith, it seems quite clear that the axes are bound by a very thin rope.

As Smith, the Aussie skipper contemplates his position in the series, Faf du Plessis is on the opposite end of the spectrum. In spite of being a stand-in for the unavailable AB de Villiers, the South African team has taken to the incumbent skipper like a flash, something that will certainly help him take it up a notch in the selector’s book.

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Needless to say, South Africa has never played a Test match yet at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart. Moreover, the Australians have ceased to lose many matches at this venue. They have clinched 9 of the 12 Tests played here. While Australia begins as the favorite, there is uncertainty in the wind as both sides face-off on a blockbuster of a Saturday at Hobart.

Team Analysis

Australia

As mentioned earlier, Australia looked rather discombobulated, to say the least. Having taken an early yet slender lead in the first innings, they were dismissed by a  significantly weakened South African pace attack, especially one that relied on part-timers such as JP Duminy and Temba Bavuma to gain returns in the form of wickets.

However, with a new Test match, skipper Steve Smith and the coach Darren Lehmann will be looking ahead to putting out the best possible XI for a start. The absence of Shaun Marsh has come as a blow despite the reinforcements making their way into the side. While Joe Burns is one who would definitely be the favourite to open the batting, issues over a few batsmen and their recent woes with the bat could see Callum Ferguson make his way into the side.

The bigger problem, as Darren Lehmann illustrated in the pre-match presser is the fitness of strike bowler Mitchell Starc. The southpaw once again is being troubled by a few niggles in his ankle. In spite of the fact that Lehmann has come out in support of Starc featuring in the match, it seems quite clear that a fitness Test will prevail.

South Africa

There will most definitely be a wave of confidence for the Proteas as they enter the second Test at Hobart. Having been the only side to have defeated Australia since 2012 in Tests down under, Faf du Plessis has a lot to ponder over his future and seriously consider taking up the captaincy role in Tests on a much longer term basis.

However, the way the Proteas marshalled their resources in the first Test is as amazing as it gets. With strike bowler Dale Steyn missing from the grand scheme of things, it was the way that the others stepped up to the plate were something special, to say the least. Temba Bavuma and Vernon Philander made amends for the losses with some terrific bowling.

However, Morne Morkel is expected to make his way back into the side ahead of Kyle Abbott given the pace of the Hobart wicket. Keshav Maharaj, the bowler who impressed on debut was also a massive part of the side is expected to keep his place on the side and is also expected to make a successful spinning partnership with JP Duminy.

Playing XI (Probable)

Australia: Steve Smith (C), Peter Nevill (WK), David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, Joe Mennie, Nathan Lyon

South Africa: Faf du Plessis (C), Quinton de Kock (WK), Dean Elgar, Stephen Cook, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, JP Duminy, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj

StAttack

1. David Warner requires 199 runs to complete 5000 Test runs.

2. Vernon Philander requires 15 wickets to complete 150 Test match wickets. He will become one of the fastest South African players to achieve this feat.

3. Should Dale Steyn be fit, he requires just five wickets to become South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in Tests. Shaun Pollock current holds onto the pole position with 421 wickets to his name.

4. Faf du Plessis requires 108 runs to complete 2000 Test match runs.

5. South Africa has never played a Test match at the Bellerive Oval at Hobart. However, Australia has won 9 of the 12 matches played at this venue. They lost just the one match against New Zealand in 2011.

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