Newlands set for another competitive showdown


CAPE TOWN, March 22 – (ANA) – South Africa captain, Faf du Plessis, expects another ‘cracker’ of a match against Australia in the third Test match starting at Newlands on Thursday.

Both teams have put in competitive performances to leave the series on a knife-edge at 1-1, and more high-quality cricket is expected when the action resumes after a 10-day break.

The match holds significant importance in the context of the series, victory for South Africa will ensure they finish second on the Test rankings at the April 3 cut-off date. The Proteas were inspired by Kagiso Rabada’s venom with the ball and AB de Villiers’ brilliance with the bat in the six-wicket victory in Port Elizabeth, and the captain hopes for more of the same from his troops.

“It is no different to any other series we have played, it has been competitive,” Du Plessis said ahead of the match on Wednesday. “I am proud of the way our team has stood up to the Australian team, that is important when you play against them. You can’t allow them to bully you when they are on top. We have stood our ground and we will be in for a cracker in the last two Tests.”

Rabada’s availability has made the selection headache a lot easier, but Du Plessis admits there is a possibility of one or two changes to the starting XI. Chris Morris and Duanne Olivier have been released to their respective franchises for the final round of Sunfoil Series matches, and a few more players could be released after the toss on Thursday.

“We have 13 (players) in mind,” he said. “ We have Temba Bavuma who is ready to go so it is between him and Theunis (De Bruyn). We also have to make a decision between Lungi (Ngidi) and Morne (Morkel) to see who will be better in these conditions.

“Lungi bowled really well in the previous game but he has a toe niggle which is why the consideration is happening,” he said. “ If he is not hundred percent it is an easy decision for us. What counts in Morne’s favour is that he is a fit bowler, he can bowl for long spells. That is important going into this Test match with three seamers and a spinner.”

Australia won the last match between the two sides at Newlands in 2014, a 245-run series-clinching victory in the last hour of day five. The Proteas, however, have recent success, having beaten India comprehensively by 72-runs early this year.