Proteas hope for home comforts

  • Last Updated: February 28 2014, 9:49 GMT

South Africa will bid to claim their first home series win over Australia since readmission when the third Test begins in Cape Town on Saturday.

Steyn: Set for another epic battle with Mitchell Johnson
Steyn: Set for another epic battle with Mitchell Johnson

The Proteas drew level in the three-match series with a convincing 231-run win in Port Elizabeth last week and now history awaits the world's top-ranked side.

Dale Steyn's devastating fourth-day spell fast-tracked victory for the hosts in the second Test and again his battle with fellow quick Mitchell Johnson looms as decisive to the contest.

Johnson's fire and brimstone approach tore the Proteas' batting apart in the series opener - picking up where he left off in the Ashes - but Steyn took centre stage on a placid St George's Park pitch to level the series.

Ahead of the series decider, Steyn admitted Johnson's devastating burst in the first Test had stirred him into action.

"The guy just tore us up," he told reporters.

"He showed that when a bowler is in a purple patch how devastating he can really be. It was something to try and copy, I guess."

Steyn's aggression was obvious in Port Elizabeth when he removed skipper Michael Clarke, prompting his 'chainsaw' celebration.

The 30-year-old might not pose the physical threat of Johnson - his decisive spell was built on subtly of skill as he found reverse swing with the old ball - but admits he bowls at his best when emotions are high.

"I'm not really angry, it's more like focused aggression," he said.

"I've got to be in that state of mind to be able to produce spells like that. If I was running in thinking of cuddly bears, I would be dishing out half volleys and hamburgers for guys to smash."

The lead-up to the match has been overshadowed by Australia opener David Warner's claim that the Proteas used illegal means to provoke reverse swing in Port Elizabeth - pointing the finger at wicketkeeper AB de Villiers.

Warner was subsequently fined 15 per cent of his match fee, after pleading guilty to a charge of "making inappropriate comments".

Australia quick Ryan Harris, however, had no problem with South Africa's tactics and suggested Australia were more worried with finding a way to get the old ball to reverse.

"I've got no doubt what they did was fine, otherwise the umpires and the match referee would have done something," said Harris, who has struggled with a knee problem during the series.

"We didn't do it well enough so we've just got to make sure that if it (reverse swing) happens here (in Cape Town), somehow we've got to get it going."

Harris and fellow quick Peter Siddle are in danger of losing their places - with Jackson Bird and James Pattinson waiting in the wings - while all-rounder Shane Watson is expected to be recalled.

Watson will likely slot in at six, with Shaun Marsh or Alex Doolan making way, with the all-rounder's bowling offering support for the Australian attack.

"Having Watto back would be huge, having that extra bowler," Harris said.

"Who he comes in for I don't know, the guys who are already in there, Alex Doolan and Shaun Marsh, didn't go well last game but have done well. Who knows. But I think we need Watto playing."

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