After a drawn first test in Brisbane, both Australia and South Africa are set to make changes ahead of this second game of the three match series (11.55pm GMT, Wednesday).
For the Aussies, Shane Watson has been recalled to the squad after injury while South Africa have included Dean Elgar following JP Duminy’s long term Achilles problem.
Both batting line-ups will be just as strong, if not stronger, following these changes but the problem for both of these sides currently lies in the bowling attacks. In last week’s first game, both seemed to lack the penetration needed to take 20 opposition wickets and after the teams made big scores on first innings, the game petered out into a tame draw.
As a result, the selectors will need to look at those bowling line-ups to avoid a repeat. For Australia, it seems certain that Mitchell Starc will be called into the starting XI, possibly at the expense of off spinner Nathan Lyon. That would leave Michael Clarke’s men without a recognised spin threat but Lyon is struggling to make any impact at test level.
Shane Watson’s recall may just offer more variation to the attack but it’s felt that the all-rounder will be included as a batsman only following his recent injury.
Meanwhile, South Africa were expected to be the most effective of the two bowling line-ups but they only managed to take five Australian wickets in the whole of the Brisbane test. During that Australian innings of 565-5, captain Graeme Smith used eight different bowlers and it would be no surprise to see spinner Imran Tahir included in the side for the game in Adelaide.
Batting presents no problem for either side, and all of the big performers seem to be in top form. With Watson’s potential return however, it is claimed that Australia will consider dropping opener David Warner and moving Rob Quiney up the order to open with Ed Cowan. That would leave Watson in a familiar number three role at the head of an immensely strong line up.
Suddenly, after Australia’s long transition period, that batting order which is supplement by Clarke, Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey is starting to look like one of the strongest in world cricket.
For South Africa, Duminy’s loss is undoubtedly a blow but the all-rounder was batting at number seven behind Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB De Villiers and others. Duminy’s batting was really only needed if the top order failed and at the moment that doesn’t seem remotely likely.
The subtle changes to both bowling line ups should give these sides more of an attacking edge but the respective batting orders remain just as strong. I would expect to see both teams compile big scores on first innings and it’s unlikely that this will leave enough time for either Australia or South Africa to complete a win.
This Preview’s Betting Tip: The Draw at 15/8 with Stan James.