South Africa and Australia renew hostilities in second Test match in Port Elizabeth

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis

Cricket expert Richard Mann looks ahead to the second Test Match between South Africa and Australia and is expecting a backlash from the hosts.

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South Africa and Australia will be hoping the cricket can make the headlines when the second Test of the series gets underway in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

Australia’s 118-run victory in the first Test in Durban was overshadowed by some shocking player behaviour on and off the field with David Warner and Quinton de Kock embroiled in a desperately ugly spat which spilled into the players tunnel adjacent to the changing rooms.

Warner’s behaviour, in particular, has once again come under close scrutiny and he is now only one demerit point away from a ban after he accepted a level two charge from the ICC for his part in the incident.

While both camps are expected to call for calm ahead of the second Test, the fierce rivalry between the two sides has been ramped up another level now and expect more fireworks when the hostilities resume on Friday.

The most disappointing aspect of all of this was that it has taken the gloss off what was a stellar performance from Steve Smith’s outfit, possibly the best they have produced since beating India in Pune last year.

The Australian attack, led by an inspired Mitchell Starc, was in full working order with Pat Cummins producing a number of fiery spells and Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon also making notable contributions.

With a bowling line-up of this quality, Smith has a fine hand to play with, but Aidan Markram’s brilliant second-innings 143 showed what can be done and his partnership of 147 with de Kock was a perfect example of how to counter attack such a strikeforce.

Aidan Markram
Aidan Markram

AB de Villiers also impressed with a fine 71 in the first dig, another who thrived when taking the attack to the visitors, but in truth, the hosts were always behind the eight ball when only posting 162 in their first innings.

There are clear lessons for the home side to learn from that opening encounter and the likes of Hashim Amla and skipper Faf du Plessis are expected to come to the party this week.

Despite being outplayed for large parts of the game, South Africa will take plenty of heart from the fact that they were in with a real chance of winning when Markram and de Kock were going strongly in the second innings.

They had the Aussies well and truly rattled and there are enough chinks in the armour of the visitors to think that odds of 9/5 about South Africa levelling up the series in Port Elizabeth is a touch of value.

Their own attack caused Australia plenty of problems with spinner Keshav Maharaj bowling beautifully and the seamers, led by a fired-up Kagiso Rabada, all enjoying some success at different points.

Cameron Bancroft was again unconvincing, despite a fifty in the second innings , Usman Khawaja endured a wretched week while Warner, as mentioned earlier, will be under considerable scrutiny over the next five days.d was dismissed twice by spin.

Cameron Bancroft was again unconvincing, despite a fifty in the second innings, Usman Khawaja endured a wretched week while Warner, as mentioned earlier, will be under considerable scrutiny over the next five days.

Shaun Marsh, an outright selection in the series preview, made a couple of solid contributions but he was another unable to make it to three figures and South Africa will hope they can expose some of those flaws if they themselves are able to post a big first innings score this time around.

The last time Australia toured South Africa, back in 2014, the Aussies won the first Test easily only for the hosts to roar back with a 231-run victory in the second Test in Port Elizabeth. At 9/5, they look worth backing to repeat the dose this week.

Posted at 1200 GMT on 07/03/18.

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