AB de Villiers will lead South Africa in Tests for the very first tie at Johannesburg © Getty Images
AB de Villiers will lead South Africa in Tests for the very first tie at Johannesburg © Getty Images

South Africa and England will battle it out in the third Test at Johannesburg, starting from January 14. This match is important for both teams. South Africa will want to win the match to stay alive in the series, going into the fourth and final Test at Centurion. A win for England, on the other hand, could seal the series and the following Test will be nothing but a formality. South Africa will have a new skipper in the longest format in AB de Villiers, after Hashim Amla decided to resign, following the draw at Cape Town. The match is set to have quite a few intriguing battles. Pramod Ananth lists some of them. Full Scorecard: South Africa vs England 2015-16, 3rd Test at Johannesburg

Alastair Cook vs Kagiso Rabada: Cook has had an ordinary series by his standards with scores of 0, 7, 27 and 8 in the four innings of the series so far. He will want to get some runs under his belt in the third Test. It was Rabada, who dismissed Cook in both innings at Cape Town and he will be entrusted to do so again, when he opens the bowling with Morne Morkel. Rabada has grown in confidence in this series after a poor performance in his debut Test series against India. South Africa vs England 2015-16, 3rd Test at Johannesburg: Preview

Joe Root vs Chris Morris: Morris on his debut was ordinary with the ball in the first innings, but he did manage to trouble Joe root in both innings and dismissed him on both occasions as well. He can easily trouble Root with some extra bounce. He can push keep pushing him on the back foot and then surprise him with a fuller one and get him dismissed. He bowled an absolute peach to bowl Root in the second innings of the previous Test.

Ben Stokes vs Dane Piedt: Stokes was at his destructive best at Cape Town and will be high on confidence going into the third Test. Stokes bats at No. 6 and it will not be a bad idea if de Villiers introduces Piedt as soon as he comes on. He might get hit for a couple of sixes or fours, but Stokes might fall after going for one too many. Piedt is an intelligent bowler and will not be afraid to toss it up, even to Stokes. READ: South Africa vs England 2015-16, 3rd Test at Johannesburg: Visitors’ likely XI

Hashim Amla vs Stuart Broad: Amla will now be able to bat much freely as the burden of captaincy has been lifted off his shoulders. Amla is a solid batsman and proved his value when he scored a brilliant double century at Cape Town. That’s the ‘Hashim Amla’ the world is used to seeing. But he tends to move across his crease a bit and is a tad edgy in the initial stages of his innings. That will be England’s window of opportunity to dismiss him. Broad has already dismissed him twice this series so far and will look to get the big man this time around too. READ: Hashim Amla may have been South Africa captain, but wasn’t a leader

AB de Villiers vs James Anderson: De Villiers and Anderson squaring off against each other is a mouth-watering prospect. De Villiers is easily South Africa’s best batsman and when he faces England’s best bowler Anderson, there surely will be some interesting moments. De Villiers played a crucial role in the second Test and built an excellent partnership with Amla to take the Proteas within touching distance of England’s first innings total. But he will not find it easy as Anderson and Co. will look to remove him at the earliest. READ: AB de Villiers best man to lead South Africa, but must be in position for short term

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)