This is a crucial match with Australia and South Africa going into this final game all square after two draws. A win will naturally clinch the series (2am GMT, Friday).
South Africa are also clinging on to their status as the No.1 ranked test side and need a win or a draw to remain at the top. Victory for Michael Clarke’s men will see Australia take over at the summit of the rankings.
Both of the previous games have featured high scoring draws although South Africa were indebted to Faf Du Plessis for guiding his side to safety in the last test at Adelaide. Du Plessis’ marathon stay at the crease helped to narrowly avoid defeat in a game where Australia dominated throughout and the Aussies will certainly be the most confident squad going into this decider.
Both teams have a number of selection issues and South Africa will be particularly concerned over the fitness of their key all rounder Jacques Kallis who pulled up while bowling in Adelaide. Injuries have been a feature of this series but Kallis is such a vital member of this touring squad that his absence should make Australia short odds favourites. Ryan McLaren has been called up as cover but it’s likely that Kallis will play in this game, even if it is just in a batting role.
Elsewhere, South Africa will almost certainly drop Imran Tahir after the spinner returned an incredible set of figures of 0-180 in 23 overs. The Perth pitch is more conducive to pace than spin and this will give the visitors the opportunity to recall seamer Vernon Philander in place of the struggling Tahir.
As for Australia, their issues are in the bowling department where James Pattinson has been ruled out for the rest of the season with rib and side injuries. Pattinson’s place will almost certainly be taken by left arm paceman Mitchell Starc while Shane Watson has a good chance of returning to bolster the seam attack.
Watson is likely to come back into the side in place of Rob Quiney who has struggled for runs since making his debut at the start of the series. Watson for Quiney makes Australia an even more formidable batting line up and with South Africa’s bowlers currently struggling for form, a win for the tourists does seem unlikely.
The focus has naturally been on Aussie skipper Michael Clarke who has made two double hundreds in the series and is in the form of his life. However, David Warner, Ed Cowan and Mike Hussey have all made centuries of their own and with Watson back in the set up, there doesn’t seem to be a weak link anywhere.
Jacque Kallis is so pivotal to the result that if he were ruled out, the Australian win would be the best outcome. However, expect the South Africans to patch up and send out their star man for such a vital game and his presence should lead to another draw.