Having trumped England in the previous Test in Centurion for their first victory after five successive defeats, can South Africa build on that success and begin the new year on a positive note?
South Africa v England, 2nd Test
ICC Test Championship
Newlands, Cape Town
Friday, 3 January - Tuesday, 7 January; 10:30am local, 08.30am GMT
A new coaching set-up, featuring some of the finest men in the game's history, a veteran paceman, charged up by the prospect of a final burst or, perhaps, a return to international cricket after a much-needed two-month break, South Africa's 107-run win in Centurion could be attributed to each of these factors. Quinton De Kock, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada took the responsibility as the experienced men, but it's the contributions of Rassie van der Dussen, Anrich Nortje and Dwayne Pretorious that would've pleased skipper Faf du Plessis immensely.
They now head into the second Test at Cape Town, a venue where they have won each of the previous four Tests, and the familiarity and the in-form bowling unit could further boost their confidence to take a hold in the series and set their ICC World Test Championship campaign on track.
A first Test win in 11 months and some outstanding performances to match 🔥 pic.twitter.com/WyioAZMvFF— ICC (@ICC) December 29, 2019
England, on the other hand, have been able to notch up some fine individual performances for the last two months, but have failed to click as a unit and hold on to key moments, which has deprived them of a winning result. In the first Test, they missed the services of Chris Woakes and Jack Leach, both of whom were down with illness. To add to the woes, Jofra Archer could be a doubtful starter at Newlands, after bowling only six balls in the training session on Wednesday, 1 January, due to a sore elbow.
The visitors still have enough quality in their bowling line-up, but it was the batting that let them down in the series opener. They would seek inspiration from opener Rory Burns, whose solid 84 at the top gave them an outside chance in the 375-run chase.
Remember the last time
James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Sam Curran joined forces to reduce South Africa to 111/5 by the first hour of the second session on the opening day of the first Test, before Quniton de Kock (95), aided by some useful lower-order contributions, guided South Africa to a first-innings total of 284. England found themselves on course at 142/3, with Joe Denly and Ben Stokes looking well-set. However, the former's dismissal on an exact score of fifty triggered a dramatic collapse, as England crumbled for 181.
A winning start to Mark Boucher's era as South Africa head coach.https://t.co/FtwcoF4nkO— ICC (@ICC) December 29, 2019
Rassie van der Dussen's maiden Test fifty, and late lower order contributions, helped South Africa set an imposing 375-run target for the visitors. A 92-run first-wicket partnership ignited hopes, but Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje shared seven wickets between them to complete a comfortable 107-run win.
What they said
Faf du Plessis, South Africa captain: "It's the start of a new chapter. We want to make sure we're improving as a Test team again. We want to go up to better things again and this is just the start. It's a South African thing. We are a team of fighters."
Joe Root, England captain: "The first innings collapse [in the first Test] was where the game was lost, but it was pleasing to see the fight in the second innings. We can prepare really well and bounce back hard. Archer is a huge talent, we know the impact he can have on a game. It was great to see his response after a difficult tour of New Zealand."
Weather is expected to be largely clear, with bright sunshine and moderate breeze on all five days of the Test. Fast bowlers have relished the Newlands surface in recent years, with Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander sharing 50 wickets between them across the last five Tests at the venue.
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