You couldn’t have written a better script for the first test from South Africa’s perspective, especially when the visiting side lost their star bowler-Dale Steyn in the first innings. Having lost four consecutive tests now, Australia are under the pump to perform in Hobart otherwise they could find themselves copping some serious backlash from the public. Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander troubled Australia in both innings, consistently hitting a length that Australia struggled to maneuver which resulted in wickets. The boundaries in Hobart are significantly smaller than other Australian venues, so expect to see a healthy amount of boundaries in this test. The Hobart wicket itself always has something in it for the bowlers throughout the match, so expect a hard fought contest between bat and ball.
Josh Hazlewood v Hashim Amla
It was expected that Mitchell Starc would do most on the damage to South Africa’s line-up, but it was Josh Hazlewood who took down South Africa’s best batsmen in both innings. Hashim Amla has a test average of 50+ and has just about seen it all, but he was beaten hands down by some exceptional deliveries from Hazlewood who dislodged the veteran and sent him on his way twice. Dismissed for 0 & 1 in the WACA test, Amla would be looking for some sweet revenge with the short boundaries in Hobart although Hazlewood has him on a tight leash at the moment.
Kagiso Rabada v David Warner
These two players are undoubtedly their respective teams game breakers, individuals who can change the coarse of match in a single innings. David Warner looks in career best form, smoking anything remotely full, short and wide which makes Rabada the perfect match-up for the hard hitting opener. Rabada’s extremely consistent with his line and length, and with Warner striking at a prolific 77.74 in test cricket it could be hard for him to resist the occasional swing which brings Kagiso into play. At the moment it looks like if you get David Warner out, Australia are quick to follow.
Keshav Maharaj v Steve Smith
It was controversy galore in the first test which resulted around this match-up, the lbw decision against Steve Smith. That decision could really affect Smith’s batting throughout the summer now, the general expectation is that if you’re that far down the pitch regardless of the ball hitting you on the pad, it shouldn’t be given out. With that shock decision, Smith would have that in the back of his mind which could result in a negative approach against the spinners, particularity Keshav Maharaj who will more than likely have a plan in place when Smith walks to the crease. Knowing Steve Smith, you can’t keep a player of his quality down for that long so this could be the innings he needs.
Probable Starting XI’s
Australia- 1. David Warner 2. Joe Burns 3. Usman Khawaja 4. Steve Smith (c) 5. Adam Voges 6. Mitchell Marsh/Callum Ferguson 7. Peter Nevill (wk) 8. Mitchell Starc 9. Joe Mennie 10. Josh Hazlewood 11. Nathan Lyon.
South Africa- 1. Stephen Cook 2. Dean Elgar 3. Hashim Amla 4. JP Duminy 5. Faf du Plessis (c) 6. Temba Bavuma 7. Quinton de Kock (wk) 8. Vernon Philander 9. Keshav Maharaj 10. Morne Morkel 11. Kagiso Rabada.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.