Venue: Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Date: Friday, January 24 – Tuesday, January 28, 2020
England picked up a dominant win in the third Test to take 2-1 series lead. The win – by an innings and 53 runs – saw the visitors win the toss and put up a daunting score of 499/9 declared in 152 overs. Keshab Maharaj did his best with the bat and the ball, but scores of 209 and 237 weren’t even enough to force England back to the crease to knock out a win. Ollie Pope won player of the match as he was 135 not out in England’s single innings.
It was the host nation that won the first Test – the Boxing Day Test – as they prevailed by 107 runs at SuperSport Park. After England won the toss and elected to field the South Africans made 284 runs off of 84.3 overs thanks to an impressive 95 runs from Quinton de Kock. De Kock was later named player of the match for his efforts, but England did show signs of life with both the bat and the bat – Stuart Broad took an impressive 4/58 from his bowling stint – but it was their first innings that cost them. They made just 181 their first time at the crease as Vernon Philander took four wickets for just 16 runs.
England changed their strategy for the second Test at Newlands where they again won the toss but this time elected to bat. It proved to be a shrewd decision as their scores of 369 and then 391/8 declared never looked like being threatened. Man of the match was Ben Stokes, while Dom Sibley put up his maiden hundred in with the bat as he reached 133 not out in his knock.
Now we see if South Africa can show signs of life and come back to a series draw in Johannesburg.
The Wanderers is one of the most exciting grounds in Test cricket as the bouncy pitch makes things happen that we don’t see on wickets most weekends. Temba Bavuma replaces Zubayr Hamza in the South African lineup for this one, a change that will see Rassie van der Dussen move up to No. 3 in the batting order. Other changes are expected, but Faf du Plessis will wait to look at the condition of the pitch in the morning to finalize his selection.
Kagiso Rabada will miss this match based on picking up a demerit point for his celebration after claiming the wicket of Joe Root in Port Elizabeth.
It looks as though Jofra Archer will be back in the England team for the final game of the Test match section of this tour. The decision for Root will be just how many of his pacemen to play and which of the collection is going to be the most fearsome on the Wanderers wicket. This would be a shame for spinner Dom Bess, a player who was successful in the third Test but who doesn’t bowl the right way for this pitch.
England will again be hard to beat if they find their way to the crease first on Thursday morning.
South Africa have lost seven of their last eight Tests and the Port Elizabeth game was over before they even got in to bat. This means that even at 2.80 as the home team with BetXchange it is hard to find value in backing them. Maybe they can rise up for what could be the final Tests for Faf du Plessis and Vernon Philander, but the loss of Rabada leaves their bowling attack toothless and vulnerable. This number becomes a little more tempting if South Africa can bat first as England still aren’t the same team when coming into bat second.
We like Mark Wood to use the pace of the pitch to be the top England bowler in the first innings at 3.30.