Second Test preview: Australia v SA


With the first Test at the Gabba ending in a draw, this series has turned into a two-match affair. The number one ranking is at stake, and South Africa will be desperate to improve on their performance and win this game.

With the first Test at the Gabba ending in a draw, this series has turned into a two-match affair. The number one ranking is at stake, and South Africa will be desperate to improve on their performance and win this game, thus holding on to the mace. They only need to draw the series to hold on to number one, while the Aussies must win it.

Australia were the more impressive side in Brisbane, and had a day not been rained out they may well have been going into this game at one nil. But as it stands, it's honours even going to a venue that eight times out of the past 10 games has seen a result.

Australia are still without all-rounder Shane Watson, who was not picked because he is not yet ready to bowl in match conditions following his calf injury. The selectors were loathe to use him as a pure batsman, and thus opted to stick with Rob Quiney in the top order, despite his failure on debut last week.

Aside from Quiney, David Warner will also be eager to rectify his slump in form, as the Aussies cannot rely purely on Clarke and Michael Hussey to be the run-getters here. Ricky Ponting has the most runs at this venue and needs that mojo to work for him if he is to keep his place, following his duck in the first game.

The Aussie bowling attack remains spearheaded by Peter Siddle and James Pattinson, with Ben Hilfenhaus the third seamer. Mitchell Starc was not given a run despite being fit, so the trio will need to do well to keep him on the sidelines in Perth. Siddle in particular must make sure he doesn't over-step, having lost a wicket thanks to a no-ball at the Gabba.

The Proteas pace bowlers had a similar issue with no-balls, with Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Rory Kleinveldt the culprits. That issue, as well as a general lack of glory coverage, cost Kleinveldt his place and saw leg-spinner Imran Tahir called up.

As for the batting, South Africa were gutted by the loss of JP Duminy to an Achilles injury. He snapped the left tendon while warming down after stumps, was in for surgery the next day, and will be out for up to six months.

This meant Faf du Plessis has been told to get ready for the second Test, where he will be handed his first felt cap. On the other end of the spectrum, AB de Villiers will walk out for his 79th consecutive Test appearance.

<b>Key Men</b><br><i>Australia</i>: The Aussie skipper <b>Michael Clarke</b> loves playing at this ground, and is high on confidence after his 259 not out at the Gabba. He will be the man the Proteas will most want to get out quickly, as he has an average of nearly 94 at this venue, over 11 innings. If he gets going, the visitors could be in for a world of trouble, as well as a slip down the rankings.

<i>South Africa</i>: The Proteas have included spinner <b>Imran Tahir</b> in the side, with the anticipation that the wicket will offer turn as the match wears on. Tahir has not yet proven himself worthy of his place, in the minds of many critics, so this will be his chance to show he belongs on the international stage. Australia have had issues with spin this year, so Tahir could come up smelling of roses as long as he keeps the runs down.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>November 2012, First Test: Match drawn at the Gabba<br>November 2011, Second Test: Australia won by two wickets at the Wanderers<br>November 2011, First Test: South Africa won by eight wickets at Newlands<br>March 2009, Third Test: South Africa won by an innings and 20 runs at Newlands<br>March 2009, Second Test: Australia won by 175 runs at Kingsmead

<b>Prediction</b><br>Australia have a formidable record at the Oval, having won six of their past 10 games here. They are unchanged from the first Test, where they looked impressive, so the causal observer would make them the favourites

However, online betting firm <a href='' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>Sky Bet</b></a> has both sides evenly matched in the betting for the second Test. Visit Sky Bet for the latest <a href='' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>cricket betting</b></a>.

<b>Teams</b><br><i>Australia</i>: Michael Clarke (capt), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Rob Quiney, Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade (wk), Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus.

<i>South Africa</i>: Graeme Smith (capt), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wk), Jacques Rudolph, Faf du Plessis, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.

<b>Dates</b>: 22-26 November<br><b>Morning session</b>: 10:30 local/02:00 SAST – 12:30/04:00<br><b>Afternoon session</b>: 13:10/04:40 – 15:10/06:40<br><b>Evening session</b>: 15:30/07:00 – 17:30/09:00<br><b>On-field umpires</b>: Richard Kettleborough, Billy Bowden<br><b>Third umpire:</b> Asad Rauf<br><b>Match referee</b>: Ranjan Madugalle