South Africa have the momentum to beat Australia at home at last
South Africa are the number one Test side in the world rankings by a mile. AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla are officially the best and joint-second best Test batsmen in the world. Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander are the top two Test bowlers in the world. But there is one glaring omission from an otherwise impeccable CV.
Since they were allowed back in from the sporting wilderness in 1991, the Proteas have won Test series against every other nation both home and away – except Australia at home.
In six home series over the past 20 years, South Africa have lost four and shared the other two. Yes, there was a time when the Baggy Greens were dominating the world, but there were also occasions when they were seemingly there to be taken.
Now is their big chance to lay the bogey. Fresh from a commanding 231-run victory in Port Elizabeth, South Africa have the wind in their sails and Coral make them 5/4 to win the decider in Cape Town (15/8 Australia, 5/2 the draw).
After dishing out an Ashes thrashing, Australia carried on where they left off in the first Test at Centurion, Mitchell Johnson leaving the hosts shell-shocked with match figures of 12-127.
It looked like the Aussies would go on to blow away Graeme Smith’s team in the same manner as they destroyed England, but South Africa bounced back to win just as convincingly at Port Elizabeth and it is they who have the momentum going into this thrilling final showdown.
De Villiers for South Africa and David Warner for Australia continue to pile on the runs, but the duel that will really get the pulses racing is between Steyn and Johnson, two frighteningly fast bowlers at the height of their powers right now.
Johnson has taken an astonishing 52 wickets in his last 12 innings at 14.71, but Steyn, like a legendary old gunslinger who has been called out by the new kid in town, responded in devastating fashion in the second Test, ripping through the Australian middle order with a unplayable spell of reverse swing bombs.
It’s a great match-up and Coral just can’t split them – they bet 10/11 each of two who fares best in the first innings.
Steyn can edge out Johnson again, while other match bets that appeal are 4/5 Warner against Smith and 8/11 de Villiers against Michael Clarke. Both captains have been struggling with the bat this series; they haven’t managed 100 runs between them in eight innings.
Shane Watson has recovered from a calf injury and is back for Australia, but Alviro Petersen also returns for the home side, who will be hoping to improve upon their already impressive record of 18 victories from the last 26 Tests at Newlands, although it should be pointed out that their three defeats were all against Australia.