Extra Spice In Series Decider

Source: AAP/foxsports.com.au
Aussie skipper Michael Clarke chasing runs and victory in Cape Town. Source: AAP/foxsports.com.au

Fired-up by claims from Dave Warner that wicket-keeper A.B. de Villiers engaged in ball-tampering so that his bowlers could get some reverse swing in the second test, South Africa has added incentive to crush Australia in the series decider in Cape Town. Warner has since been fined almost $3,000 for his comments, but the Proteas aren’t happy with the Aussie opener. The accusations, the ICC fine and the fact South Africa is chasing its first home series win over Australia since being reinstated as a Test-playing nation in 1991, add extra spice to an intriguing decider.

There’s little doubt opposing spearheads Dale Steyn and Mitchell Johnson hold the key. In his last 14 innings with the ball against England and South Africa, Johnson has taken 52 wickets at an average of 14.71. But the rejuvenated left-armer was nowhere near as lethal on a slower deck in Port Elizabeth, finishing with 3/121. The Aussie can expect similar conditions at Newlands. That brings Steyn right back into the equation. Despite gastric problems leading into and during the second test, Steyn ripped through the Australian middle order in the second dig taking 4/55. The top-ranked bowler in the world is especially dangerous when he combines speed with reverse swing and that’s what brings the Aussies undone at the moment.

The last time these two sides met at Cape Town was in 2011, when Australia rolled the Proteas for 96 in the first innings to take a 188-run lead. But they crumbled second time at bat, making just 47, on the way to an eight-wicket loss. That performance and the 283-run drubbing in Port Elizabeth are surely in the minds of the players.

On the batting front, A.B. de Villiers and team-mate Hashim Amla have handy records at Newlands. De Villiers has scored 824 runs at 41.2 at the ground, while Amla has scored 827 runs at 41.35. Australia's key with the willow is Warner. After an Ashes series which netted 523 runs at an average of 58.1, the nuggety lefthander has scored 263 runs at 65.75 so far in this series. The 27-year-old has reached 50 in three of his four innings. His only failure was 12 in the very time at the crease, but he followed that up with 115 in the second innings. The captains will not only be chasing a series deciding victory, but much-needed runs. Michael Clarke his 60 runs from four bats, while Graeme Smith has just 37.

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