With the series tied at one game apiece, South Africa and Australia will clash in the third and the final match at Newlands in Cape Town from Saturday. Follow the action live from 7.30 pm AEDT.
It was expected to be closely-fought series from way before it started but while the scoreline reads one game apiece, both matches have been one-sided.
And they have gone in favour of the team batting first, which not only speaks of how the pitches have played through the duration of the game, but also about how difficult it has been to handle the pressure of batting against the on-board runs.
What makes it more interesting now is that the recent record at Newlands suggests that the team batting second have the advantage. Seven of the previous 11 Tests in which there have been results, have been won by the side batting second while only one has gone in favour of the team batting first.
There’s one difference, though.
Having learnt from their defeat in the first Test and probably from what worked for England in the first leg of the Ashes series last year, the track for this third game may not behave too differently from the one at Port Elizabeth in the last game.
What this implies is that it could play out to be a dry surface, tend towards being abrasive and it’s highly probable that it will assist reverse swing. Again.
Australian skipper Michael Clarke had an interesting observation about the pitch to make, a day before the game.
He said: “I think it (reverse swing) is going to play a huge part … especially if the sun’s out (and) the forecast is pretty good for every day. And the two wickets either side of the main pitch will be quite dry.”
The dry surface on either side of the main pitch will allow for more abrasion, and in turn for that much more reverse. How the Australian batsmen cope with it will be an interesting and a decisive sub-plot of the game.
The other interesting bit coming out of the break between the previous game and this one were the David Warner comments ‘speculating’ on the cause of the South African ability to reverse swing the ball.
It did not go down too well with many, and while the ICC fined the Aussie opener and the management doled out an internal sanction to Warner, those words would have done enough to spur on the South Africans. It’s a long-winding Test ahead but Warner will hope he’s not left to regret those words.
The playing 11s for both sides will bear a different look.
Australia will welcome Shane Watson back into the line-up with John Inverarity almost confirming that Shaun Marsh will miss out on selection for this one. This will allow Alex Doolan to retain his place in the side.
There’s an additional worry for Australia; do they continue with Ryan Harris as a part of the arsenal or if they bring in James Pattinson. Harris is struggling with his knee but has confirmed he is fit enough to last the game. The concern, however, is his form, which has seen him take three wickets at 74 in this series.
South Africa will also be forced to make one change at least with Wayne Parnell hobbling out of the previous match.
They could bring back Ryan McLaren in his place or try out another frontline speedster in Rory Kleinveldt at the number eight slot.
Alviro Petersen could also come into the playing 11 having recovered from his stomach bug, which will not only mean that Quinton de Kock will go out but it could also push Dean Elgar to down the order.
Join me for this first day of the third Test on Saturday and you can follow the live score of this game from 7.30 pm AEDT and post your comments below.