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Sunday, August 02, 2009

South Africa vs Australia 1st Test 2009: Preview, Live Score

(This entry was originally posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009)

South Africa hosts Australia in the first of the three-match test series starting tomorrow (26 February) at the Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg. South Africa has already overtaken Australia in ICC ODI ranking to become the no. 1 one-day team in cricket. Now, with Australia’s no. 1 spot in test cricket up for grab, South Africa looks all set to go all the way to become the no. 1 team in test cricket too. Knowing the fact their reign in test cricket is now under threat, young Australian side is also expected to show their best to defend their long-standing reign of test cricket. In fact, it is such a series where win or defeat is closely associated with prestige and pride that both sides would want to attain even at the cost of humiliation for the other.

Match: South Africa vs Australia, First Test 2009

Date: 26 February 2009

Venue: Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa

Time: Local time 10.30 am (08.30GMT)

Live TV: Super Sports Television Channel

Australia has dominated world cricket more than a decade and in doing so, they gained the ‘invincible’ status. In fact, they are the three-time reigning world cup champion and have shown considerable dominance in test cricket too. However, Australia started losing their invincibility since the retirement of some of their former greats like Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist over the last couple of years. However, Australia still managed to win the 2007 world cup in West Indies, but their supremacy in world cricket stated depleting at a quick rate over the last one year that started with losing the CB Series title to India last year at home. Then Australia lost the test series 2-0 in India, being unable to show enough resistance against an in-form Indian team. However, Australia did not face a serious threat to their reign as world champion until Graeme Smith’s South Africa conquered a rare test series in Australia in December-January. Even Australia would have lost their no. 1 place in test cricket to South Africa unless they could win the dead-rubber third test in Sydney.

South Africa has a number of reasons to be determined to win the home test series against Australia. First, they know that they will become the no. 1 team in test cricket with another series win against their biggest ever rivals in cricket. Secondly, South Africa is also gearing up to take revenge of their 3-0 humiliating test series defeat during Australia’s previous tour of South Africa.

Now, ahead of tomorrow’s first test, both sides are looking for winning start to this much-awaited series. Both sides declared their 12-member squad from where they will chose final 11 tomorrow morning. Considering the rain and the seaming wicket of Wanderers, Australia did not include any specialist spinner in their squad and the visiting side is all set to go with an all-pace bowling attack in the first test. Australia is now left to decide whether they would play pace all rounder Andrew McDonald or include four specialist pacers: Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Doug Bollinger and Ben Hilfenhaus. Well, I think, Australia should play McDonald in what would bring a much-needed balance in the Australian squad. They need to have a good batting depth while facing the likes of Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Morne Morke in a seaming wicket like the Wanderers. Opener Phillip Hughes will have his test debut against South Africa tomorrow.

South Africa’s 12-men squad includes Lonwabo Tsotsobe who seems to be man to be left out from the final 11. Unlike Australia, South Africa is expected to play spinner Paul Harris for the first test. However, Ashwell Prince failed to make it to the squad even though he has fully recovered from injury. All rounder Duminy was the star of South Africa’s historic test series victory in Australia. So, he is now under the lime light and the home side is expecting similar performance from him in the upcoming test series too.

The pitch is expected to offer enough seam for the pacers, while batsmen and spinner might face hard challenge in this wicket. Over the last one week, there was rain in Wanderers too. So, it has become an ideal seaming condition alluring the pacers of both sides. So, Australian captain Ricky Ponting might not regret for not including a spinner in the first test squad.

Here, I am giving the 12-men squads of both Australia and South Africa from Cricinfo:

South Africa

1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Neil McKenzie, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 AB de Villiers, 6 JP Duminy, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Morne Morkel, 9 Paul Harris, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Makhaya Ntini, 12 Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Australia

1 Phillip Hughes, 2 Simon Katich, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Michael Clarke, 6 Marcus North, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Peter Siddle, 10 Doug Bollinger, 11 Ben Hilfenhaus, 12 Andrew McDonald.

Despite South Africa’s recent domination over Australian team, South African coach Mickey Arthur has asked his players to show enough respect to the Australian cricket team.

Cricket360.com reported:

Arthur feels that Australians as opponents’ demand and command respect even they may be off-color for the time being. There composition is a mixture of some very good senior players and some youngsters as well who are trying to make an impression, opined Arthur.

Online Live Score and Updates

Here, I am giving some website names from where you can get the live score and updates of the first test match between South Africa and Australia:

Cricinfo
Sify sports
action8cricket
cricketnext
Headlinesindia.com
CRICBUZZ
123INDIA.COM
Cricket365
thatscricket

South Africa seems to be favorite against Australia. They have a team full of confident thanks to their continuous success over the last few months. Most of the South African players are currently playing at their top and I count most on this point. Australia also has a balanced attack with a number of great cricketers like Ricky Ponting, but very few of them are now playing at their best. However, I do not think that Australia will face a tough challenge because of the seaming condition, because South African condition is very similar to the condition Australian cricketers are used to playing back at home. I just want to see a hard-fought match between the world’s top two cricket teams.

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