South Africa and England are all set for the big Boxing Day Test starting from tomorrow at SuperSport Park, Centurion. The match will begin at 1:30 PM IST. South Africa would look to end 2019 on a happy note after a miserable year in terms of both On and Off the field. England, on the other hand, after having a dream summer, suffered a Test series defeat against New Zealand and they would also want to bid adieu 2019 with a win.
After all the chaos around the CSA, South Africa has appointed an entirely new management structure. With a new coach and management, Proteas will be hoping for a change of fortune. Faf du Plessis’ men will be attempting to end a five-Test losing streak when they take the field in Centurion.
South Africa will feel confident as they will be playing at a ground which has been a fortress for them, where they have won 19 of 24 Tests.
The Proteas have named six uncapped players in their squad for the first two Test matches. Batsmen Pieter Malan, Rassie van der Dussen, all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius, wicket-keeper Rudi Second and bowlers Dane Paterson and Beuren Hendricks are included in the squad.
It will be a special and emotional series for Vernon Philander as the veteran will pull curtains down on his International Cricket career after the Test series.
England, meanwhile, will be looking to improve their pretty average touring record that has seen them lose five of their last six away series. The team is also dealing with a sickness bug after arriving in South Africa. As many as six English players were down with flu and the management had to call backups from England.
Ben Stokes too missed the training to be with his ailing father. It remains to be seen whether or not Stokes would take the field in the first match.
The pitch will be good for batting for the first two days. Spinners will come into play later in the Test. Batting last on this pitch is going to be very difficult and therefore, the team that wins the toss in this match would look to bat first.
Heavy rain is expected on the second day of Test but the forecast for other days, looks fine. The temperature will be around 29-32 degree Celsius.
Probable Playing XI
Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Zubayr Hamza, Pieter Malan, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje.
Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Joe Denly, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, Jofra Archer, James Anderson.
Faf du Plessis