AUS vs SA, 1st Test: Preview, Prediction and Cricket Exchange Fantasy Tips
All eyes will be on Kagiso Rabada [Source: Twitter]
It's the battle between two giants that don't give an inch to each other. While one team has an undisputed legacy in the history of cricket, the other has been its biggest challenger since time immemorial.
When these two teams meet on a cricket field, competitiveness exceeds the limit. Some shoulders collide, words get exchanged, but cricket emerges as the ultimate winner.
It's finally time for El Clasico, as the Australian summer truly begins with a bang on Saturday, with a rampant South Africa taking on the hosts in the first Test of the three-match series at the iconic Gabba in Brisbane.
Team Preview: Australia
Australia recently whitewashed West Indies [Source: AP]
Australia are high on confidence after drubbing West Indies by two-nil in their first assignment of the home summer.
Their run-machine Marnus Labuschagne will be up against his motherland and will, therefore, likely to bear the brunt of the chirpy Proteas crowd, something that one certain Kevin Pietersen went through as a youngster. However, Queensland is his own backyard and therefore, the home crowd will leave no stone unturned in motivating him to bring out his best against his country of origin.
Additionally, Steve Smith will emerge as the biggest challenge for the Proteas, as he has always been for the opponents in his career. Apart from Smith and Labuschagne, the eyes will be on David Warner, who blew hot and cold against the West Indies. Travis Head and Usman Khawaja are also pretty much capable of contributing handy runs.
Meanwhile, the Australian bowling unit looks formidable, studded with the likes of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland and Cameron Green. So, everything looks sorted for the hosts, as they will aim at continuing their dominance on home soil.
Team Preview: South Africa
On the other hand, South Africa had an outstanding start to the year 2022, as they stunned a robust Indian outfit with twin crushing defeats.
They drew against New Zealand, whitewashed Bangladesh, but failed to sustain their winning momentum in England, losing consecutive games and hence the series by 2-1 to the home side.
Their bowling is at par with their Australian counterparts, having the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Marco Jansen, Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj. However, it will need a mammoth effort from their batting unit to neutralise the Australian bowling lineup.
The onus will be on Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen, who, alongside the skipper Dean Elgar, will be key for the visitors' batting success.
Date and Time: December 17, 5.50 AM IST
Venue: The Gabba, Brisbane
Live Streaming: Sony Sports Network and Sony LIV App
Pitch Report: The surfaced pictures have hinted at a greenish spicy track at the Gabba. The pitch is indistinguishable from the outfield at the moment. So, even if some grass gets trimmed, there will be enough help for the seamers early on and batting will become easier with time. So, it will be bold to bat first on this wicket, and we reckon the toss-winner should ideally opt to field.
Australia have confirmed their playing XI for this match. Pat Cummins will return, while Scott Boland will be preferred over Michael Neser for the third seamer's role. Meanwhile, Theunis de Bruyn will likely mark his Test return in South African colours.
Australia: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Alex Carey (WK), Cameron Green, Pat Cummins (C), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland
South Africa's predicted XI: Dean Elgar (C), Sarel Erwee, Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Kyle Verreynne (WK), Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi
Cricket Exchange Fantasy Tips
Wicket-keeper: Alex Carey
Batters: Steve Smith, Dean Elgar, Marnus Labuschagne, Rassie van der Dussen
All-Rounders: Travis Head, Marco Jansen
Bowlers: Kagiso Rabada, Pat Cummins, Anrich Nortje, Nathan Lyon
Captain: Steve Smith
Vice Captain: Pat Cummins
Considering overall strength and home advantage, we reckon Australia will emerge victorious in this match.