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South Africa Will Be Out To Stop Australian Charge In 1st Test At Durban

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It will be an intense battle between the world’s best pacers when South Africa take on Australia in the first Test match at Durban starting Thursday. The Proteas will be keen to step up and put the latest woes behind them against an in-form Australian side.
Both South Africa and Australia come from winning respective Test series against India and the Ashes respectively. Altogether that promises plenty of fireworks in store at the Kingsmead. Both teams have plenty of firepower in their ranks and it will be mostly of winning small moments when matters that will be put into consideration. That was largely seen in both the Ashes and the series against India.
Home conditions will not make huge difference as the last time Australia toured here they won 2-1. South Africa meanwhile travelled Down Under and then won by the same margin. The major fight for the Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis is to have his bowlers keep Steve Smith at bay. For Australia it will be vital not to allow Morne Morkel & Co. to settle in.


STATS –

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  1. South Africa are 2nd in the ICC Test Rankings, while Australia at No. 3 have a chance to go past them if they win the four-match series 3-0 or higher.
  2. Both teams have faced each other 94 times in the history of Test cricket with the Aussies winning 51 of them and South Africa claiming 23.
  3. Steve Smith ranked No. 1 Test batsman in the world. Kagiso Rabada ranked No. 1 Test bowler in the world.

Team news and selection
South Africa
South Africa won the first two Tests against India with a four-man pace attack, and it will be interesting to see whether they have the same ploy with Keshav Maharaj as the lone spinner. Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi will be immense as an attack.
It will be Morkel, who will be raring to have a go against the Steve Smith-led Australia, who will be a tougher opposition than India especially after their 4-0 Ashes drubbing of England in 2017-18. Against the best, Morkel will be pumped up to give his all go out with a high.
Captain Faf du Plessis is expected to play, although the right index finger he broke four weeks ago remained bandaged. Reports claim he took a minimal part in the team’s first practice in Durban. With Quinton de Kock woefully out of form with the bat before being injured in the one-day series against India, there might be an opportunity for Heinrich Klaasen to take over the gloves.
AB de Villiers’ return will be key factor in that middle-order who are in desperate need of runs.
Australia
South Africa’s batsmen will face a fast bowling attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, backed by the off-spin of Nathan Lyon. The four were brilliant in the Ashes and contributed immensely for the 4-0 series victory. Cummins has been very consistent and his focus will be the key for the visitors.
On the other hand, Australia’s batting has relied greatly in recent times on captain Steve Smith. The World No. 1 amassed 687 runs in seven innings across five Tests in the Ashes showing what the level he can reach. Besides Smith, opener David Warner will be the key upfront. The southpaw’s approach against the likes of Rabada and Co. will be a dreamy affair.
All-rounder Mitchell Marsh and elder brother Shaun will be another cause of concern for Du Plessis and Co. The Aussies could go in with the same XI last seen in the fifth Test against England.
Pitch and conditions
The pitch will offer encouragement but not excessive help to the fast men, with enough grass on the surface to assist movement off the seam. Spinners will be effective.
Teams:

South Africa (Likely XI): Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (capt), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Lungi Ngidi.
Australia (Likely XI): Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
Match timings: 1:30 pm IST, Telecast – Sony Six, Sony Six HD
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