What a thrilling series we now have on our hands. After a dominant performance with the ball in the second Test, South Africa tied their Test series with Australia at one game apiece. The series will now move to one of the most picturesque ground in world cricket, Newlands in Cape Town for the 3rd Test starting Thursday. We preview the game in full and give our betting tips below.
The lead story heading into the 3rd Test in Cape Town is of course the availability of key South African fast bowler Kagiso Rabada. At the time of writing, Rabada is awaiting the decision of a appeal hearing after he was suspended for two games for a bump on Aussie captain Steve Smith following his dismissal in the 2nd Test.
Rabada has returned to training with the SA squad, and a decision is rumoured to be made sometime within 48 hours (by late Wednesday). With the Test starting on Thursday, he will likely prepare as if he is playing and endure a nerve racking couple of days in the lead up. Rabada jumped into the World No.1 Test bowling rank after his 11-wicket performance in Port Elizabeth, and along with star batsmen A.B de Villiers, was the catalyst in the hosts levelling the series.
He’ll be massive loss for the South Africans if the appeal is ruled against him, however, Australia could be without their own spearhead, as Mitchell Starc faces injury concerns. Starc faces a sore calf in the lead up to the 3rd Test, but was limited at practice on Monday, indicating that he will likely line-up for the Aussies.
Mitchell Marsh is also a concern for the Aussies as he nurses a groin strain he picked up in the 2nd Test. Should Starc remain on the sidelines, the inclusion would come from the trio of backup quicks in SA in Jhye Richardson, Jackson Bird or Chad Sayers. Marsh’s inclusion would likely be specialist batsmen Peter Handscomb.
Tough match to call here, especially without knowing whether Rabada will be available or not. At the start of the series, Dale Steyn was slated to return to the SA side in the 3rd Test, but his injury will keep him out for at least the Cape Town Test, meaning Morne Morkel will be the likely replacement should Rabada miss. Vernon Philander will play a massive role should Rabada miss, and at just 2.5, we love the overs on his first innings wickets.
Australian Captain Steve Smith has fallen back to earth a little bit after a record breaking Ashes series. He’s still averaging 32.50 so far this series but against his lofty standards it seems like a failure. His counterpart in A.B de Villiers, however, has carried the SA batting line up in both Tests so far. A superb 126* in the first innings in Cape Town was a knock for the ages and even without Rabada in the line-up, it’s hard to bet against A.B in this sort of form.
The Aussies are currently $2.20 favourites but we expect that to come in even more if Rabada is indeed ruled out. With five wickets in the 2nd Test and a brilliant debut against India last month, young paceman Lungi Ngidi showed his ability to spearhead an attack, and with veterans in Morkel and Philander mixed in, we think the South Africans still have enough firepower to win this match.
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