After the first one and a half day of the WACA Test, when Australia’s David Warner and Shaun Marsh was marching along towards the first innings total of the South Africa, not many gave any chance to the struggling visitors to make much of an impact in the days to come.
However, things turned around drastically courtesy fiery bowling spell from young Kagiso Rabada, who was equally supported by brilliant batting performances from experienced JP Duminy and Dean Elgar, which eventually led Proteas to take 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Come this Saturday, both teams will go into the second Test, which has more significance for the hosts than the visitors. It will not going to be an understatement if one calls the Hobart Test as a make or break case for Australia’s captain Steve Smith, who is under enormous pressure after his team lost four in a row in the five-day format.
The 27-year-old had a horrid time in the Perth Test, both with the bat, where he scored just 34 runs in two innings, and on the field leading the side, and will be hoping for things to turn around in the upcoming match. To make matters worse for Smith, his team is facing some serious injury crisis. With opener Marsh and fast-bowler Peter Siddle already out of the second Test, Kangaroos were sweating on the fitness of middle-order batsman Adam Voges and fast-bowler Mitchell Starc, both of whom passed the Test on Friday and is expected to start in the playing eleven in the Hobart Test.
Opener Joe Burns is tipped to replace Marsh, whereas uncapped Joe Mennie is expected to replace Siddle in the lineup. For visitors, who are high on confidences after earning what many call as one of their greatest Test triumphs, things are not much different from the hosts in terms of fitness problems. It will going to be the first occasion after a very long time when South Africa, who relied heavily on their captain AB de Villiers and fast-bowling spearhead Dale Steyn in the recent years in all formats, will go into the match without them.
In Steyn’s absence, Proteas are expected to include Kyle Abbott, where there is also a question mark about the inclusion of left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, who performed brilliantly in the first Test, but can be replaced with pacer Morne Morkel.
The pitch is expected to be supportive for batsmen over the course of the match, but with some rain around in the next five days, pitch’s behavior can be unpredictable.