After a disappointing outing at Durban, South Africa have a lot of thinking to do as they go into the deciding Test at Cape Town. England, on the other hand, will be buoyed by their sensational effort in the second Test and will look to carry on in the same vein.
However, they have a tendency of blowing away great opportunities and that should inspire the South Africans coupled with the fact that they have an excellent record at Newlands. So it is only fair that we expect a tight contest for the decider.
Most of the pre-match discussions surrounded the poor form of veteran Makhaya Ntini and his possible exclusion. Of course, it will be an extremely tough decision.
But, now that it is clear Friedel de Wet’s omission despite his noteworthy debut at Centurion was a mistake, the decision might be easier. Still, don’t expect de Wet to repeat his debut act. This will be a bigger Test for him as the Proteas will be under greater pressure.
Pace spearhead Dale Steyn too needs to get his act right. He hasn’t had a great time against England. As such a lot will depend on how Morne Morkel performs. He has been the most consistent and threatening of the pacers for South Africa. Meanwhile, Paul Harris has been doing a commendable job as a spinner with good support from JP Duminy.
While the bowling wasn’t at its best at Durban, South Africa also suffered big time due to their uncharacteristically toothless batting effort. Only Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis made valuable contributions before the tail helped the home side get close to 350 in the first innings.
However, in the second innings, the batting was a complete disaster and South Africa crumbed to an ungracious defeat. The batters will have to put the disappointment of last week behind them and start afresh.
England, on the other hand, would look to consolidate on their magnificent effort at Durban. They would be hoping for the in-form Paul Collingwood to be fit else Michael Carberry might have to be drafted it.
That apart, most of their problems seemed sorted out in the second Test. Alastair Cook and Ian Bell struck centuries, which would have delighted the England management no end.
If the seniors like Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen can come up with similar efforts at Cape Town, the visitors would be in with a great chance of achieving a series victory considering their potent bowling attack.
Spinner Graeme Swann has been South Africa’s biggest nemesis in the series so far. His match 9-wicket haul at Durban was a richly-deserved one. Add to it, he has been more than useful with the bat lower down the order.
A decade since his tumultuous exit from international cricket, Swann has truly come of age. The pace trio of Anderson, Onions and Broad has been doing a good job at the start, getting the early breakthroughs. If they can maintain the same intensity and discipline at Cape Town, there is no reason why England can’t pull off another victory.
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