England look set to seal series in the 4th Test against South Africa!
England to win this game!
England has staged a brilliant fightback in the ongoing 4-match Test series against South Africa. After losing the first Test on the tour, England won the second game by 189 runs and then went on to hand South Africa an innings and 53 runs defeat in the 3rd Test at Port Elizabeth. This has been a stellar team show by the visiting England side, especially after having lost the first Test of the tour. They now lead the series 2-1 and will be going into the 4th and final match with great confidence.
South Africa, meanwhile, has fizzled out after showing that spark in the first Test. They have failed to perform as a unit and have been especially miserable with their batting. Now that their lead fast bowler Kagiso Rabada has been ruled out of the final match, their hopes of squaring the series have been severely dented. South Africa has looked deflated and uninspired and it will now require a special team effort for them to stop England from winning the series.
After they had registered that emphatic win in the first Test of the series at Centurion, it looked like South Africa's fortunes will finally transform and we will see a new rise in their cricket. Unfortunately, that wasn't to be as the team has gone back to old habits which is hurting them badly.
Captain Faf du Plessis has been in terrible form and hasn't been able to lead his side by example. In the 3rd Test, the batting unit failed miserably and barring Quinton de Kock’s 63 in the 1st innings and Keshav Maharaj’s 71 in the final innings there was no notable performance from anyone.
Dean Elgar, Pieter Malan, Anrich Nortje and Rassie van der Dussen would really need to step up along with the captain if they harbor any hopes of stopping England. Temba Bavuma has been recalled in the squad for the 4th Test and it would be interesting to see if he is used in the middle-order to bolster it.
South Africa's bowling too has now suffered a setback with Kagiso Rabada's suspension for the next Test. Vernon Philander went wicket-less in the last game and would be desperate to leave a mark in his final Test. Apart from him, off-spinner Keshav Maharaj, who has really toiled hard in this series, and Anrich Nortje would have to take the bulk of the responsibility.
Faf du Plessis (capt), Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Rassie van der Dussen, Pieter Malan, Anrich Nortje, Vernon Philander, Dwaine Pretorius, Temba Bavuma, Andile Phehlukwayo
Faf du Plessis, Anrich Nortje, Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock, Pieter Malan, Temba Bavuma, Dwaine Pretorius, Dane Paterson, Vernon Philander, B Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen
England would be flying high on confidence after that performance in the last Test. There were many heroes for England's victory -Ben Stokes' stunning all-round show where he spanked a terrific hundred and took some crucial wickets; Ollie Pope's magnificent maiden century at No.5; Stuart Broad performing his job as the lead bowler ably along with Dominic Bess who had figures of 5-51 in the 1st innings and Mark Wood who ended up snaring 3 crucial wickets in the 2nd innings.
Captain Joe Root, who couldn’t make an impact with the bat, proved to be the wrecker-in-chief in the final innings with his off-spin, taking 4-87 to take England to victory. This victory will taste sweeter as it came despite not having their lead bowler James Anderson in the side who was out injured.
Thus, England has an in-form and balanced outfit where everyone is contributing. The team would still hope that the likes of Zak Crawley, Sam Curran and Jos Buttler, who have been relatively quiet this series, get to make a stellar contribution to the team's cause in the final game. Having a settled batting and bowling unit, England look formidable and will be hard to beat.
Stuart Broad, Joe Denly, Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, Joe Root (c), Mark Wood, Dominic Sibley, Sam Curran, Dominic Bess, Ollie Pope, Zak Crawley
Joe Root, Mark Wood, Ollie Pope, Stuart Broad, Zak Crawley, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Ben Stokes, Dominic Sibley, Joe Denly, CR Woakes
The pitch at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg is a good one for batting with help for the seam bowlers in the morning sessions and on the last two days. The team batting first would be targeting a total of around 400-plus to be on the safe side. Batting last on this pitch would be difficult as the average 4th innings total at Wanderers is only 209. Some rain and a thunderstorm is expected on the first day of the Test at Johannesburg . However, the remaining four days should be bright and sunny.
The iconic Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg has been witness to some incredible games. The first Test played here was way back in 1956 between South Africa and England. This is a high-scoring venue and totals of 500-plus have been achieved on five occasions here with 652-7 by Australia against South Africa in 2002 being the highest one.
The team winning the toss would be interested to bat first. Putting on a healthy total and then applying pressure on the opposition should be the way to go.
England has shown great character after bouncing back from the loss in the first Test. Moreover, they won the 3rd Test despite not having James Anderson. This side has almost all bases covered and is genuinely performing as a unit.
England would be confident of repeating their performance in the final Test and clinching a memorable series win in South Africa. The Proteas, meanwhile, have a lot of soul-searching to do and they don't have time.
In the absence of Rabada, the team would find it hard to stop England, especially as their batting unit has performed miserably. Unless South Africa produces something special with the bat and ball, it is unlikely they would be able to outplay the opposition on the current form. Their best hope is for a draw.
Thus, back England to win the 4th Test and with it, seal the series.
England to win this game!