South Africa in pursuit of history (Preview)

January 2nd, 2009 - 9:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Jan 2 (IANS) South Africa will be aiming to dislodge Australia from the top spot in Tests in the third and final cricket Test starting here Saturday.The Proteas have already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead and a series whitewash will ensure the visitors of the No.1 ranking and prove catastrophic for world champions Australia. Australia have not lost a series at home since 1992-93 and the last series whitewash came 120 years ago.

When captain Ricky Ponting takes the field at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), his team will have lot at stake and will be under tremendous pressure to stop South Africa from inflicting a humiliating defeat that will end Australia’s domination.

The Australian bowling attack has been rudderless in the series with spearhead Brett Lee sitting out due to an injury. Left-arm fast bowler Doug Bollinger, who is also a local lad, has been included to strengthen the depleted pace attack after Lee was dropped with a sore left foot.

“That’s probably a lot to do with his overall skills at the SCG. He (Bollinger) knows the conditions very well and will hopefully swing the new ball and late in the innings as well,” Ponting pointed out.

All-rounder Andrew McDonald will be the other player putting on the famous baggy green cap for the first time in place of Andrew Symonds.

Proteas skipper Graeme Smith was quick to take a swipe at the selection process.

“Having Ben Hilfenhaus in (the squad in) Melbourne and now picking Bollinger here probably shows a little bit of lack of clarity in terms of where they want to go,” Smith said. “That has surprised us.”

“We have got a few interesting challenges ahead of us in this game, a few unknown factors - McDonald and Bollinger. We’ve got to make sure we really meet those challenges on the field.”

Australia’s top order batting too has not been firing and all eyes will be set on veteran Matthew Hayden.

South Africa, on the other hand, have played like a unit with every player responding to the challenges in the tough two Tests.

They chased 414 in Perth for the second-biggest pursuit in history, and then beat Australia in Melbourne for their first series victory here.

“It’s obviously difficult when you’ve had such great moments in the last two Tests to do it again,” Smith said.

“The squad is quite calm. Each player is still hungry for performance. There’s a real motivation to win the series 3-0. That would be fantastic. That opportunity has not come around for many teams often against Australia. Here we sit with that in front of us.”


Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew McDonald, Brad Haddin (wicketkeeper), Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Peter Siddle, Doug Bollinger.

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Neil McKenzie, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, J.P. Duminy, Mark Boucher (wicketkeeper), Morne Morkel, Paul Harris, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini.

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