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Australia Vs. South Africa – The Battle for Test Supremacy!

With all respect to No.1 side India. this is the series that will truly decide the real powerhouse in Test cricket.

A battle between the two best bowling attacks in the world. Credit: Fox Sports

In just over an hour the most anticipated test series of the year will get underway at Kingsmead, Durban. The India- South Africa series and the Ashes seemed to be the curtain raiser for what is arguably the main event of the year – to determine the true No.1 in test cricket in many people’s eyes. Although the test championship mace cannot change hands no matter what the result is, the reason why this being viewed as the true battle for test supremacy is due to the outstanding overseas records of both teams, especially in each other’s backyards.

Australia have struggled of late overseas but have a great track record nonetheless in alien conditions and South Africa too boast a great away record. More impressive and pertinent is the fact that Australia have never lost in the rainbow nation since the Proteas returned to the international fold in 1991-92 and the Proteas themselves have registered some impressive wins in kangaroo land, winning the last series as well as the one in 2008. This will surely be a fascinating contest!

To add to this, never before have the teams mirrored each as they do this time. Both teams come into this series with world class bowling attacks – a pace quartet or a triumvirate to call upon and a spinner to add variety. While the bowling of the 2 teams will be their strength, it will most likely be the batting that will determine the outcome of the series. South Africa boast some serious batting talent in the shape of run-machine Hashim Amla, maverick stroke player AB De Villiers, captain Faf Du Plessis and the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the business in Quinton De Kock. They all did struggle at different point in the India series but did enough to get the requisite runs on the board for their bowlers to deliver victory in 2 of the 3 tests.

The big one! Image: Cricwizz

Similarly Australia come into the series with their batsman in top form after a dominating Ashes series. Superman Steve Smith will lead their charge and will be backed up by the ever explosive and dangerous David Warner- all though his overseas record isn’t great- and the new found confidence of the Marsh brothers. So in the end, which team’s batsmen can put the runs on the board for their bowlers to attack will be one of the key deciding factors in the series.

The South African pace attack will be without its leader Dale Steyn, at least for the opening test and his presence will sorely be missed. But in Lungi Ngidi they have unearthed a gem and though he is still raw, he does have the potential to be a serious threat to the Aussie batsmen. With the in form Vernon Philander and pace sensation Kagiso Rabada in the ranks not to mention their towering pacer Morne Morkel and the Proteas attack does present an imposing picture. With Morkel deciding to call time on his international career after the series, his teammates and he himself will look to deliver the swansong that this soldier thoroughly deserves.

The Australian pace attack presents a fearful proposition as well. With spearhead Mitchell Starc back to full fitness and leading the attack, complimented by the equally fast and talented Pat Cummins and the ever accurate and miserly Josh Hazelwood, the Proteas’ batsmen will have no respite. Should Jhye Richardson or Chadd Sayers be blooded, the Australian attack could look even more menacing.

South Africa will not make the mistake of preparing ‘spicy’ pitches as they did against India and this is where Australia hold the advantage, should the pitches aid spin as well. In Nathan Lyon, Australia boast the best spinner in the world (though some might argue its Yasir Shah) and with his proven track record in all conditions against right- handers (SA have 4 in their top 6), he could be the difference between the teams. South Africa do possess a good spinner in left arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, and he will have a keen role to play, with Australia having 4 right-handers as well in their top 7. While Maharaj usually seems like a holding option, he will have to deliver if South Africa are not to fall behind in the spin department. (Imran Tahir as a leg-spinner might have been a better option). So the spinners will be the other deciding factor in a series billed as a battle between the two best bowling attacks in the world.

With so much at stake and two evenly matched teams, it promises to be a fascinating contest! The next one-month will unmistakably determine the true emperor of Test Cricket. So fans, all around the world – get your seats upright, table trays closed, switch your digital devices ‘on’ and finally…buckle your seat belts. Its time for lift-off!

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