Keshav Maharaj bagged the wicket of Steven Smith on his debut    Getty Images
Keshav Maharaj bagged the wicket of Steven Smith on his debut Getty Images

After a victorious start at in the first Test at WACA stadium, Perth, South Africa are all set to face Australia in the second Test. The match is scheduled to be played at Bellerive Oval, Hobart. As per the reports, the pitch does not seem to support spin much while there is also not much expectations of getting reverse swing. A lot depends upon the weather for the deciding Test in which the visitors have the upper hand, winning the opener and taking the lead. This will be the first time South Africa will face the hosts at the ground, making the contest even more interesting. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs South Africa, 2nd Test at Hobart

Australia have had a very good record at the venue in Tests, winning nine of the twelve fixtures and losing just once. Victory in this match is important for the hosts in order to better the results as well as to stay valid in the series. Australia, who have had a horrific series in Sri Lanka losing the Test series 3-0 to the hosts. This series at home is their chance to revive their lost dominance in the longest format of the game and known conditions are something that can come in handy for them.

More than the failure of the bowlers, it was the underperformance of the batsmen that handed them the defeat in the first match. One plus that the hosts will have for the match will be the absence of Proteas’ bowling spearhead Dale Steyn, who picked up an injury while bowling in the first match. Steyn was the one who provided the touring party their first breakthrough in what may be called the comeback innings for them in the match and in the second Test, the team will need someone to do it in his absence.

Kagiso Rabada has performed exceptionally well so far in the series but will be tested in the conditions at Hobart, as their is not much expectations of getting reverse swing at the ground. Vernon Philander will be the other bowler to watch out for. The venue will be a testing ground for the spinners of both the teams as the pitch does not look to do much for the spinners.

As the teams prepare for the second match of the series, here are the key battles than can be expected:

Steven Smith vs Keshav Maharaj: It was a dream debut for the young spinner who excelled with both bat and ball. He hit six off Mitchell Starc deliveries while picked up the wicket of opponent skipper Steven Smith. The dismissal remains to be a controversial one and at Hobart, Smith will look to take a sweet revenge. Smith has played only one Test so far at the venue and scored only 10 runs, which means it is a chance for him to do better his numbers as well. Maharaj will also look to accept the challenge, produce turns and make it 2-0 against Smith.

Hashim Amla vs Nathan Lyon: Though the Hobart pitch does not look to be of much help for spinners, Nathan Lyon has grown up as a spinner in these conditions and knows well how to produce spin at not so turning pitches. However, he is expected to have a hard time against Hashim Amla, who is known to be a good player of spin. Amla is one of the most consistent batsmen of the Proteas’ side but has not been able to do anything mentionable so far in the series, getting out for a duck and a solitary run in the two innings of the match he has played.

Mitchell Marsh vs Vernon Philander: Vernon Philander, who was played as more of a frontline pacer in the first Test, took up a lot of responsibilities performing with the bat as well as the ball and adding crucial runs to the scorecard. Philander bagged 5 wickets in the match while scored 73 runs as South Africa piled on 540 runs and gained a 538-run lead. Philander thus has turned out to be a potent bowling all-rounder for the side. Mitchell Marsh, with the amount of experience he has, is expected to play a similar role for the hosts at Hobart.

Dean Elgar vs Usman Khawaja: Both the top-order batsmen were pivotal for the runs their respective teams put up in the first Test. While Elgar built up the most crucial partnership of the South Africa innings with JP Duminy, scoring 127 runs alone, Khawaja was the one who kept his team’s hopes alive with a commendable knock of 97 runs in the second innings amidst a batting order collapse. The second Test will demand both of these players to replicate their previous performances for their teams to score big in the match.

Josh Hazlewood vs Quinton de Kock: Quinton de Kock, over the years, has grown as one of the most potent young batsmen among his contemporaries and his form is a classic example of that. De Kock was the lone fighter with the bat in the first innings of the Perth Test scoring 84 runs while he maintained the form with another 64 in their second innings. With big names like Duminy and Amla governing the top-order of the South Africa batting line-up, the onus of holding the middle and lower-middle-order comes upon the potent wicketkeeper-batsman and he has pulled off his task well. Peter Nevill plays the same role in the Australia line-up. The batsman displayed good footwork and held his ground in the Perth Test and kept the battle going till the last ball for Australia. It will be interesting to see who between these two remain more effective in the Hobart Test.

(Paulami Chakraborty, a singer, dancer, artist, and photographer, loves the madness of cricket and writes about the game. She can be followed on Twitter at @Polotwitts)