Teams eye unassailable lead at The Oval - Third Test Preview
3rd Test - England v South Africa, Kennington Oval
27th July, 11:00 local, 10:00 GMT
As the series is poised at 1-1, England and South Africa will lock horns with each in the third Test that kicks-off on Thursday at The Oval.
The series witnessed two contrasting performances from the teams so far. England looked a complete different team in the first Test at Lord's where they registered a massive 211-run victory but they were outplayed completely in the second game at Trent Bridge where Proteas bounced back to level the series with a 340 run triumph.
South Africa have sent strong signal to JP Duminy, who has returned back home after he was overlooked once again but they will expect more from the likes of Heino Kuhn and Temba Bavuma. Hashim Amla will have fond memories of a triple century that he struck against England at the same venue in 2012. The promotion of Quinton de Kock at number four is a welcome move as seen in the first innings at Trent Bridge when he scored 68 off 81 deliveries.
Chris Morris' inclusion in the side for the second game created impact straightaway and the return of Kagiso Rabada after serving a suspension will only further boost their options. Duanne Olivier, who looked ordinary in the Trent Bridge game will make way for Rabada and it is likely they will retain the five bowler combination.
England will have to address their batting woes, if they are to maintain consistency in this format. Joe Root's marathon innings rescued them from a batting collapse at Lord's but even his 76-ball 78 did not prove enough at Trent Bridge where the hosts were bowled out for 205 and 133 in the two innings. Gary Ballance is ruled out of the game with a injury and Tom Westley, who scored an unbeaten century for England Lions in the tour game against Proteas is set for a debut along with Toby Roland-Jones, who will take the place of Mark Wood with a heel soreness.
A bit of rain in morning might keep the team management tempted to play an additional batsman in Dawid Malan in the place of Liam Dawson which will see Jonny Bairstow slip to number seven. Moeen Ali and James Anderson have been fantastic for England as they occupy the top two positions in leading wicket-taker list with 14 and 10 respectively while they will expect more from Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes.
The pitch was covered for most part of Wednesday due to rain, which is expected to play spoilsport on some part of the game. The surface has a decent coverage of grass but is expected to aid spin as the game progresses.
England: 1. Alastair Cook, 2. Keaton Jennings, 3. Tom Westley, 4. Joe Root (captain), 5. Ben Stokes, 6. Jonny Bairstow (wk), 7. Dawid Malan / Liam Dawson, 8. Moeen Ali, 9. Stuart Broad, 10. James Anderson, Toby Roland-Jones.
South Africa: 1. Heino Kuhn, 2. Dean Elgar, 3. Hashim Amla, 4. Quinton de Kock (wk), 5. Faf du Plessis (captain), 6. Temba Bavuma, 7. Chris Morris, 8. Vernon Philander, 9. Keshav Maharaj, 10. Kagiso Rabada, 11. Morne Morkel
The third game between England and South Africa will go into history books as it is all set to become the 100th Test played at The Oval, thereby becoming the fourth venue to achieve the milestone after Lord's, Melbourne Cricket Ground and Sydney Cricket Ground.
The Oval is certainly not among the favourites venues for England as they managed a solitary win in the last five games at the venue and will head into Thursday's game with back to back defeats that came against Australia and Pakistan.
Moeen Ali had a productive series until now and more so against South Africa batsman Temba Bavuma, who he has claimed three times in four innings while conceding just 34 runs.
Hashim Amla's career best score of unbeaten 311 came against England at The Oval leading Proteas to a convincing victory in 2012.
Another 96 runs will make former England captain Alastair Cook become the third batsman to go past 1,000 runs at The Oval after after Sir Leonard Hutton and Graham Gooch.
Cook also needs one run to surpass Allan Border's tally of 11,174 Test runs.
© Cricket World 2017