South Africa vs England, 2nd Test Preview- Wounded England aim for a series parity as South Africa hope for an encore in Cape Town

South Africa vs England, 2nd Test Preview- Wounded England aim for a series parity as South Africa hope for an encore in Cape Town

With Aiden Markam ruled out of the series after injuring his finger in the field during the first Test, Pieter Malan is set to make his debut for the Proteas at Newlands.

South African team
South African team. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI/AFP via Getty Images)

After a riveting Boxing Day encounter between two flawed Test sides, the caravan of the Test series between South Africa and England moves on to the picturesque Newlands for the New Year Test. It is amazing how a victory can go in a long way in boosting morale. Just over a month ago, South African cricket was in absolute shambles. The wheels were threatening to come out, both on and off the field.

The entire administration set-up was under the scanner, and so was the performance of the national side. But, with Graeme Smith taking over as the Director of Cricket South Africa, and Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis, and Charl Langeveldt spearheading the coaching department, there was a sense of optimism in the fans that things would finally change.

And, the world finally first glimpses of change in Centurion where the Faf du Plessis-led South Africans looked determined and focused on restoring the lost pride of a proud cricketing nation. Quinton de Kock did an AB de Villiers when he played what turned out to be a game-changing knock in the first innings; Rassie van der Dussen once again showed a glimpse of his precocious talent when he scored his maiden half-century in the second innings and the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and rookie paceman Anrich Nortje bowled with venom and hostility.

But, as Faf du Plessis said in the press conference, the team still has a long way to go, one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and the hosts would do well in realizing that their top-order still has a lot to work to do in this series, and they can’t always rely on their middle-order to bail them out.

If the wounded buffalo struck in the first, the beleaguered Three Lions- England- have a lot of questions to answer as they move into the Newlands Test. The visitors’ penchant for batting collapses continued in Centurion as they lost 7-39 in the first innings to concede a 103-first innings lead before losing their last six wickets for 46 runs in the fourth innings.

Apart from their regular batting collapses, England’s decision to bowl first in the opening Test and their choice of going for an all-seamer attack attracted a lot of scrutinies. Root had hinted in the press conference that is likely to change in Newlands, considering the dryness of the pitch. But, at whose expense, remains to be seen.

Team Combination

South Africa

With Aiden Markam ruled out of the series after injuring his finger in the field during the first Test, Pieter Malan is set to make his debut for the Proteas at Newlands.

Probable XI-

Dean Elgar, Pieter Malan, Zubayr Hamza, Faf du Plessis [c], Rassie van der Dussen, Quinton de Kock [wk], Dwaine Pretorious, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje

England

Joe Root said in the pre-match conference that the management is likely to slot in one spinner in the bowling attack, and if in that process, they have to break the legendary duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, then they won’t shy away from doing it. But, with Jofra Archer injured due to a sore right elbow, the management may not have to take that call, and slot in one of Dominic Bess or Matt Parkinson as a spinner in place of the Barbados-born bolter.

The choice of spinner will also be an interesting one. Parkinson was the original backup for the illness-ridden Jack Leach but with him enduring ordinary returns in the practice matches, Dom Bess- thanks to his all-round skills- may just leapfrog Parkinson.

Probable XI-

Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Joe Denly, Joe Root [c], Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler [wk], Ben Stokes, Sam Curran, Dom Bess/Matt Parkinson/Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson

Top Picks:

Vernon Philander [SA]- Vernon Philander showed in the first Test why he is one of the best exponents of a cricket ball in seaming conditions. The right-hander looked at the top of his game, and if that did not ring alarm bells for the English batsmen, his stats at Newlands will. The ‘Big Vern’ loves bowling at Newlands. In 10 Tests that he has played in Cape Town, the right-hander has claimed 51 wickets at an average of 17.60 with four five-fors.

Ben Stokes [ENG] Ben Stokes will return to Newlands, where four years ago, he played a whirlwind 258 off 198 balls- an innings which included 30 fours and 11 monstrous sixes. While the track isn’t expected to be as benign as it was back then, England would be really happy if the all-rounder even scores half of those 258 runs.

Stat Attack

1.30- South Africa’s W/L ratio in Newlands. In 57 Tests at the venue, the home side has won 26 and have lost 20 while 11 games have been drawn. Incidentally, the last drawn game at the venue was between England and South Africa four years ago.

1.8- England’s W/L ratio in Cape Town. In 20 Tests played at the venue, the visitors have won nine and have lost just five.

26.44- James Anderson’s average in Cape Town in 2 Tests. His only five-wicket haul [5-63] in South Africa has come at Newlands.

0– Number of Test series England have won since the start of 2019. Their last series win came against Sri Lanka [3-0].

Broadcast Details

TV – Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD

Online – Sony LIV

Match Timings – 10:00 local time, 08:00 AM GMT, 01:30 PM IST