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Once again in this heated series, off-field events have taken centre stage. Kagiso Rabada, South Africa's brilliant paceman, was cleared on Tuesday (March 20) to play the rest of the series after successfully appealing his two-Test ban for breaching the code of conduct.
There has been much uproar, especially in Australia, over the contentious decision ensuring this soap opera of a series continues to be mired in controversy. Cricket Betting Tips Free Almost lost in the backdrop, of course, the hotly contested series is evenly poised heading into the crucial third Test at the picturesque Newlands, one of the most iconic cricket grounds in the world.
After a resounding second Test victory, South Africa have the momentum fuelled by Rabada's sudden availability. The speedster was all over Australia's wobbly batting in Port Elizabeth en route to an 11-wicket man-of-the-match performance.
Apart from being defied by a dogged Mitchell Marsh knock in Durban, South Africa's bowlers have been firmly on top through skilful bowling and well-concocted plans. Cricket Betting Tips They have managed to keep stars Steve Smith and David Warner firmly in check with the Australian captain struggling to curtail wily left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj.
Like their counterparts, South Africa's batting has at times wobbled but AB de Villiers has been the difference between the teams. While Smith and Warner have underwhelmed, de Villiers has been brilliant and the standout batsman in the series. Cbtf Cricket Betting Tips For the first time when armed with their frontline pace attack, of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, Australia have been rattled and they have had no answers for de Villiers's inimitable batting.
Most importantly, South Africa may have found the right formula in Port Elizabeth. Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla painstakingly blunted the bowling with a defiant partnership, which was criticised at the time by Australian pundits. Cbtf Cricket However, it paid off as Australia's tiring attack was flayed in the backend of the innings by de Villiers and the tail allowing South Africa to gain an invaluable lead.
Australia's attack has been widely hailed as the best in the world but perhaps it can be curtailed by indefatigable batting. Betting Tips Free Lingering concern remains over the quicks, who have each broken down with injuries in the past. None of them are quite capable of being used as a workhorse.
Knowing this, South Africa's strategy of making them tire looks like a wise one although batting for the long haul could be challenging on a Newlands pitch expected to be green and favourable to seam bowling.
With the new ball expected to move notably, Australia's susceptible batting order will once again be in the firing line in conditions they have long struggled in. Online Cricket Betting Tips No Australian batsman is averaging more than 40 in the series and no centuries have been struck to clearly illustrate their inability to kick on. Every batsman has made starts but, frustratingly, failed to make substantial scores in a major headache for Australia.
As per usual, Australia will lean heavily on Smith to regain his best after an uncharacteristically barren opening two Tests. With Smith and Warner's output significantly down, Australia's brittleness has been exposed and further question marks hover over the line-up after promising signs during the Ashes albeit in the comforts of home.
The tourists have received a tonic with Starc and Mitchell Marsh declared fit after shrugging off injury concerns.
Amid the hubbub, expect more firecrackers out in the middle to continue this highly competitive battle. Cricket Tips Free In a quirk, Cape Town has been a fortress for South Africa except against Australia, who memorably wrapped up a series victory there in 2014.
This isn't the decider but, undoubtedly, Australia or South Africa can gain a stranglehold of the series with a triumph in Cape Town.
When: Thursday, March 22, 2018; 10:30 AM local, 2:00 PM IST
Where: Newlands, Cape Town
What to expect: The weather should be fine throughout the Test. The wicket is expected to be grassy and favour the quicks. Free Cbtf Cricket Tips There should be plenty of seam movement with the new ball but reverse swing might not play a major role compared to the opening two Tests.
With Rabada available, the Proteas have narrowed their squad down to 13 players, leaving them with two decisions to make. Match Betting Tips Temba Bavuma's hand is back to full strength so he will be considered against Theunis de Bruyn, while Lungi Ngidi has a toe problem, which means Morne Morkel could come back into the frame. Faf du Plessis admitted that selection targets are on his mind - South Africa were two players of colour short in Durban and one short in Port Elizabeth - but did not give an indication of how big a factor it would be in this selection.
Probable XI: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (c), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi.
There were concerns over the fitness of Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Marsh but both have been cleared to play. Free Cricket Betting Tips Australia will once again go in within an unchanged line-up.
Australia XI: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
Did you know?
- Nathan Lyon is four wickets shy of 300 Test scalps. He would be the first Australian offspinner to reach that milestone and the fifth offspinner overall.
- Australia are the only team to defeat South Africa in Cape Town since readmission. During this period, Australia have claimed four victories and lost just twice - in 2009 and 2011.
- Hashim Amla is inching closer to 9000 Test runs, needing 123 to become the 15th batsman to reach the landmark. Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith are the only South Africans with more runs than Amla.
What they said:
"There is a big hype away from the game but I don't think it's gotten into the team's space just yet. The guys are still really focused and motivated and the series has been good. Cricket Betting Tips It's two quality teams trying to compete against each other so it's been great cricket and it's obviously set up nicely at 1-1. If you look at the last two games where there is an hour where a team slips up, the teams are so strong that they can push ahead in the game." - Faf du Plessis
"Looking at the first two Test matches we haven't had someone go on and score a hundred. Cricket Betting Tips Free That's really big for us. If we can get someone in the top four to go on and make a big score it will set the game up for us. That hasn't been good enough in the first two games and we want to turn that around." - Steve Smith