After claiming an historic six-wicket victory over South Africa inside two days during last week’s first Test, Australia will be confident of wrapping up the series when the two teams renew their rivalry in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground.
It was certainly a memorable start to the three-match series in Brisbane, as for the first time since 1931 a Test match in Australia had been concluded within the first two days, with the hosts making lightwork of a fragile South Africa batting line-up.
Conditions certainly played a part at Brisbane Cricket Ground, as 34 wickets fell across the two days, including four during Australia’s second innings, as the hosts made hard work of securing the 35 runs they needed after dismissing South Africa for 152 and 99.
The pitch at the MCG should be a lot more batting friendly, but it is difficult to see anything other than another Australia victory given the tourists’ lack of depth lower down the order.
Australia vs South Africa Betting Tips
- Pat Cummins – Australia Top Wicket Taker (1st Innings) @ 2/1
- Temba Bavuma – South Africa Top Run Scorer (1st Innings) @ 5/1
Australia’s main selection dilemma comes in their bowling attack, as Josh Hazlewood, who missed last week’s first Test with a minor side strain, is now in contention to feature.
It appears the pace bowler is in direct competition with Scott Boland for a place in the team, although the latter may keep his place after his four-wicket haul during the first Test.
South Africa’s bowling attack did produce during the first Test and is likely to remain unchanged, while captain Dean Elgar will be hoping for an improvement from himself and his fellow batters, with the Proteas having a lack of options in reserve.
Pat Cummins – Australia Top Wicket Taker (1st Innings) @ 2/1
Australia captain Pat Cummins currently sits top of the ICC Test bowling rankings and he underlined his world-class talents with his seven wickets during the first Test.
The 29-year-old took 5-42 during South Africa’s second innings in Brisbane – his best figures of the year – surpassing the 5-56 he produced against Pakistan in Lahore back in March.
It was also the eighth five-wicket haul of Cummins’ Test career and the New South Wales native appears well placed to be the pick of the Aussie bowlers once again during the second Test.
Temba Bavuma – South Africa Top Run Scorer (1st Innings) @ 5/1
South Africa’s batting line-up certainly did not cover itself in glory during the first Test, particularly at the top of the order where captain Elgar was dismissed for three and two, while fellow opener Sarel Erwee fared little better, losing his wicket for 10 in the first innings and three in the second.
However, there were shots of life lower down the order, including Kyle Verreynne’s first-innings knock of 64, but it is Temba Bavuma that has looked South Africa’s most consistent batter for some time now and he produced respectable scores of 38 and 29 in Brisbane.
Bavuma is the only South Africa player averaging over 40 in Test cricket during 2022 (41.25) and any hopes the tourists have of levelling the series in Melbourne may rest on the 32-year-old’s shoulders.