Proteas in Australia

Proteas: Perth draw unlikely

2012-11-27 15:59
Graeme Smith (AP)

Cape Town - If the trend at the WACA in recent history is any yardstick, South Africa and Australia are unlikely to play out a Test series stalemate.

The three-match tussle may be deadlocked at 0-0 after two, but there must be every chance that it will go decisively one way or the other in the keenly-awaited Perth climax from Friday (04:30 SA time).

Only one of the last 10 Tests at the famous venue, with its legendarily pacy track, has ended in stalemate and all of the last three have gone the way of the Baggy Greens.

Australia v South Africa 2nd Test Day 5 Highlights

The lone draw, interestingly, was when the Proteas played there the second-last time in 2005/06 and Jacques Rudolph’s unbeaten second-innings century - how the embattled left-hander, his berth probably under threat, would love one again - played a key role in salvaging a backs-to-the-wall stalemate not dissimilar to the one earlier this week in Adelaide.

Graeme Smith’s side have altogether happier memories of the last meeting at the WACA, which saw them go 1-0 up en route to a maiden 2-1 series triumph Down Under, in 2008/09.

The South Africans remorselessly chased down a record ask of 414, anchored by tons from both Smith and AB de Villiers, with all of six wickets in hand.

Since then the Aussies have re-established a strong winning habit at the ground, however.

Their last Test at the WACA saw them thrash India by an innings and 37 runs in January this year, although they had the unpredictable, big-hitting David Warner to thank for roughly half of their runs (180) in a first-knock total of 369.

Before that, they beat England by 267 runs in the 2010/11 Ashes Test - the Baggy Greens’ only success in a home series surrendered 3-1 - with left-arm thunderbolt Mitchell Johnson bagging nine scalps for man-of-the-match mantle.

Johnson has been recalled to the extended Aussie squad for this high-stakes clash with the Proteas; he has a stunning track record at the WACA, with 30 wickets in only four Tests at an average of 18.13.

Expect both teams to at least consider going against the grain of overall Test cricket wisdom by not playing a specialist spinner - they have not been especially influential in Perth in recent years.

But when the Proteas romped to their famous victory on the last tour, left-arm spinner Paul Harris did play a pretty fulsome role in the game, bowling plenty of overs, keeping the runs in check and also grabbing five wickets across the two Aussie knocks.

It may improve the case for Robin Peterson, who can also usefully hold a bat, to turn out this time.

If he can avoid haemorrhaging runs to the awful extent Imran Tahir did in Adelaide, his presence in a holding role, particularly in the Aussie first innings, might well free up someone like Dale Steyn to bowl aggressively and not be too fearful of conceding boundaries fairly regularly.

Long-range weather prospects look good - there is some rain anticipated for the two lead-up days, but then clear skies and warm to hot temperatures for the duration of the Test itself.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  proteas in australia  |  cricket


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