Given the fallout during and after the match, it is easy to forget that Australia won an excellent first Test in Durban last week and now South Africa will look to get back on level terms when the two sides renew rivalries in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
The tourists know that a win here will give them a share of the series with two matches left which will be excellent motivation for them. We were guaranteed a competitive edge to this one without the state of the series but given how things are balanced this should be a cracking contest.
The home side will have been disappointed with their performance for the first three innings in Durban. By the time they got going in the final innings the match was beyond them and while they did well to keep Australia out there for as long as they did there was an inevitability about the outcome from an early stage.
South Africa will need to bat better in the first innings if they are to come out of this match all square in the series. First innings runs are so important in these matches against the big sides so to be shot out cheaply was not good. To be fair they were more than competitive with the ball but that matters not if they don’t put runs on the board.
The Australians will be pleased to have won the opening match as it gives them control in the series. Unlike South Africa, they did put first innings runs together and although they only made 350 with their bowling attack they had the pressure on South Africa and at no stage did they relinquish that which will have encouraged them.
It will be much a case of the same again for Australia although with some key players having not scored massive runs in that first game they might yet feel that there is more to come from them which is a perfect position for them to be in. One area where they might want to improve is against the new ball but it is always tough against that in South Africa.
South Africa are said to be weighing up whether or not to play Temba Bavuma. He is fit again but isn’t completely back to normal with his hand which could see Theunis de Bruyn staying in an unchanged side.
Australia have already confirmed that barring any late injury scare or illness they will field the same side which won at Durban which means Cameron Bancroft gets another go at opening the batting.
St George’s Park
The Port Elizabeth ground is always a pleasant one with the band playing all the way through the contest but it is a mixed venue for these two sides. South Africa only have a 12-11 winning record here with five draws while Australia have won three and lost the same number.
The wicket here is often on the slower side so the spinners are expected to come into play once again. There might be some reverse swing too if either side bat long enough for it to come in but as ever when a batsman is in he can score fairly freely.
I like one bet in this match and it comes in the performance markets which I’ve scoured throughout the lead up to the contest. This particular one is for Shaun Marsh who has been given a line of 63.5 but that looks quite low given how he is batting and how adept he is at playing seam and spin bowling.
Marsh scored 40 and 33 in the first Test for a total of 73pts which followed up a couple of solid efforts in the warm up matches. He arrived in South Africa off the back of two big centuries in The Ashes so he is ticking along nicely. One half decent innings and bits and pieces in the other gets this line covered which looks good to me.
Back S.Marsh’s Performance – Over 63.5pts for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Betfair
Back him here: