Match Preview – Australia vs South Africa, South Africa in Australia 2022/23, 2nd Test


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It’s every cricketer’s Christmas dream: a Test match on the ‘Zee’, with big crowds in attendance. While Australia’s players experience this every year, for everyone in this South African team, it is the first time they are appearing on this prestigious occasion.

Neither of them was part of the 2008 team that surprised Australia and claimed a series victory over South Africa in the country. But, from what they said in the build-up, almost everyone was awake in the wee hours of the morning, watching in wonder as a team that had not been beaten in 28 home series since 1992 was brought down to earth. by JP Duminy and Dale Steyn.

In the years that followed, Cricket South Africa sought to keep its team at home over the festive period – a reasonable plan given that it is also the prime summer in South Africa, but much less successful than in Australia. Of the three venues that CSA tried to host the Boxing Day Test – St George’s Park, Kingsmead and Supersport Park – none have ever been as full, or as intimidating, as the MCG.

That last thought is something South Africa will have to be wary of as winning is essential if they hope to keep the series, and their hopes of keeping their winning streak alive thanks to four consecutive series wins in Australia. Huh. For them to stand a chance, they will need a significant improvement in their batting line-up which has been dismissed for less than 200 in their last six Test innings. They have spent the build-up working on both technique and mindset and have maintained the mantra that if they can give their “best in the world” – as Dean Elgar calls them – someone to attack, to defend. They will be in the driving seat.

Australia’s bowlers will not be comfortable being effectively called second (or maybe even third) best and having already rolled over South Africa twice in Brisbane, will back themselves to challenge them again. On paper and experience, their batting is much stronger than South Africa’s and even though they relied on one innings – Travis Head – to take the opening match, they will be looking to find a second breakthrough this summer before they reach Sydney . Australia have not lost a Test series since December 2021 and have lost only one Test in this WTC cycle.

form guide

Australia WWWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa LLLWW

in the headlines

david warner Will be capped at the MCG for the 100th time, an occasion that seemed unlikely when he made his debut in 2011 on the back of his reputation as a white-ball batsman, and even after his last series against South Africa was impossible. 2018. He is one of Australia’s most courageous players on and off the field, and is approaching this major milestone without much form. since his last century January 2020Warner has played 15 testHe scored 678 runs including two nineties and one 50 at an average of 26.07. In 2022, he averages just 20.61, and there are questions about how long he will keep playing the longest format. The answer may come at the MCG.

Given the poor batting of South Africa, it seems cruel to dismiss one player but Sarel Ervi Must be keen to score another crucial score, especially after fellow openers Tony De Zorzi and Jordan Harman piled up runs in the domestic four-day contest back home. Ervi has not gone past 26 in his last six innings, but has scored only one hundred and one fifties in his eight Tests. The return is not too bad, especially considering the conditions in South Africa, but they will be aware that they have dropped the openers short.

team news

Pat Cummins confirmed the Christmas Day XI, with hometown cult hero Scott Boland retaining his place. A really tough decision was averted as Josh Hazlewood himself said that he was not quite ready to make a comeback after suffering a side strain.

AustraliaSquads: 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Pat Cummins (c), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Scott Boland

South Africa finalized their XI on Christmas Eve, but the only thing they were willing to give was that any changes would be made to the line-up, not the team composition. That means they will continue with a 6-5 split, fielding all four specialist pacers and spinners and leaving them unprepared to lengthen their under-fire batting line-up. If a switch does happen, it is likely to be in the top three where Rassie van der Dussen, who returned from a broken finger in Brisbane, could make way for Theunis de Bruyne.

South Africa (Probable): 1 Dean Elgar (c), 2 Sarel Ervy, 3 Rassie van der Dussen/Theunis de Bruyne, 4 Temba Bavuma, 5 Khaya Zondo, 6 Kyle Verrein (wk), 7 Marco Jansen, 8 Keshav Maharaj, 9 Kagiso Rabada , 10 Enrich Nortje, 11 Lungi Ngidi

pitch and terms

The Gabba was rated below average for extra bounce and occasional excessive seam movement and inconsistent bounce and the MCG produced a low-scoring Test last year. So, what are the differences on a more bowler-friendly surface? It takes less than you think. The general consensus is that this MCG pitch will do little less than its 2021 avatar, with both teams hoping that it will generate a good contest between bat and ball. Two days before the Test, South African fast bowler Anrich Nortje said he expected good pace and bounce but not sideways movement like in Brisbane.

The test is ready to begin in hot and humid conditions. Melbourne is forecast to be 32 and 36 degrees on the first and second days, with the chance of some rain in the early morning, before a wet third day gives way to cooler temperatures over the last two days.

statistics and general knowledge

  • Both Warner and Elgar are eyeing the milestone after making their international debuts in the Under-19 World Cup in 2006. Warner is 78 runs away from 8000 Test runs and will become the eighth Australian to reach the landmark, while Elgar needs 24 runs. Completed 5000 test runs. He will be the eighth South African to reach there.
  • Usman Khawaja needs 34 runs to reach 4000 runs in Tests
  • South Africa have played 12 Tests at the MCG and won three. Since relegation, they have played five Tests at the venue and lost only two, with two draws and their famous 2008 victory.
  • Mention

    “There was a part of everyone that felt a little sad about the loss of Scott.”
    Pat Cummins on scott boland

    “We’ll try and have lunch somewhere, but it’s obviously a PG-rated lunch. If the game was on the 28th, it would be a little different.”
    South Africa is keeping it clean this Christmas, says Dean Elgar

    Firdaus Monda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent


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