South Africa trail 1-0 in the four-match Test series against England © Getty Images
South Africa trail 1-0 in the four-match Test series against England © Getty Images

After an exciting couple of Tests at Durban and Cape Town, the ongoing Basil D’Oliveira Trophy moves to the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, where hosts South Africa and England clash in the third game of the four-Test series. The third game is expected to be a more evenly-fought contest between the two sides, given the manner in which South Africa swung the final day of the Newlands Test in their favour, nearly bowling England out for less than 200 after conceding a 600-plus total in the first innings. The third Test will also witness a change in leadership in the South African camp, with AB de Villiers taking over the captaincy role from Hashim Amla, who resigned from the post following the second Test. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: South Africa vs England 2015-16, 3rd Test at Johannesburg

De Villiers as a captain has been inspirational and refreshing, with the Proteas winning both the One-Day International (ODI) and the Twenty20 International (T20I) legs of their recent tour of India in addition to their semi-final finish in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. It will be interesting to see if de Villiers can carry his success as captain from limited-overs cricket to the Tests or not.

South Africa will be without the services of Dale Steyn once again, which will put Morne Morkel in charge of the bowling unit, though it remains to be seen who skipper AB and the rest of the team management opt for. Kyle Abbott will be eager to make his return to the playing XI, but his fitness is a major question as he missed out on the second Test due to hamstring niggles.

Should he fail to recover, South Africa would probably retain their attack of Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and Dane Piedt from the second Test. Morris conceded a plenty of runs in the first innings of his debut Test, though he had a much better comeback in the second essay. A destructive spell in the third Test is what he will be aiming for if he is to seal his spot in the South African side. READ: AB de Villiers faces captaincy challenge ahead of 3rd Test vs England

The South African batsmen made a bold statement in the Cape Town Test, where all but Stiaan van Zyl and Quinton de Kock got big scores to their credit. Van Zyl has had far too many low scores to his name to deserve a spot in the playing eleven at the moment, and it will not come as a surprise if the skipper announces a couple of changes at the toss on Thursday morning, with van Zyl’s name missing from the team.

JP Duminy was axed for the second Test, but his 260 not out for the Cape Cobras in the ongoing Sunfoil Series (South Africa’s premier First-Class tournament) should earn him a comeback in the Johannesburg Test. It however, remains to be seen where the South Africans can adjust him in the batting order.

England, on the other hand, are currently enjoying a 1-0 lead in the four-Test series at the moment, and are very much in line to successfully defend their run of not having lost a Test series in South Africa since 2005. They will however, be a little more cautious heading into the third Test with the hosts exhibiting a much better form in the second game. Ben Stokes was a revelation for England in the second Test, where his out-of-the-world knock of 258 off just 198 deliveries blew the South African attack away.

The memorable knock by Stokes, during the course of which he brought up the second-fastest Test double-ton of all time, earned praise from legendary English all-rounder Ian Botham. It has also made Stokes the pillar of the English middle-order along with Jonny Bairstow, whose 150 not out served as vital support to Stokes’ 258. Bairstow is expected to remain in the side as the wicketkeeper-batsman following his century.

England’s batting order is pretty solid at the moment, with only skipper Alastair Cook’s form being the only source of worry at the moment. Cook needs to make a strong statement with the bat at Johannesburg lest he draw the ire of his critics once again, who are out there in plenty.

The English bowlers were literally taken apart in the second Test, where Stuart Broad (2 for 94) was among those who did not give much away as South Africa declared on 627. More than their bowling, it was their sloppy efforts in the field that ultimately caused the likes of Amla and Temba Bavuma to score tons, with the latter becoming the first black South African cricketer to do so in Tests. A change or two to the bowling attack might be made only if they fail similarly at the Wanderers. READ: South Africa announce squads for remaining Tests, ODIs vs England

Johannesburg is known to be one of the most high-scoring tracks in South Africa, and this has been a venue which has seen several high scores. All eyes therefore will be on the likes of Amla, de Villiers, Nick Compton, Stokes, Joe Root, etc. While the Barmy Army (the England supporters’ contingent) were rife with chants of “Hashim” and “Temba” in the previous game, it remains to be seen who they go after in this game.


South Africa: AB de Villiers (c), Hashim Amla, Kyle Abbott, Temba Bavuma, JP Duminy, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, Stiaan van Zyl, Hardus Viljoen.

England: Alastair Cook (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jos Buttler (wk), Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Nick Compton, Steven Finn, Mark Footitt, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Samit Patel, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, Chris Woakes.

Time: (10:30 local | 08:30 GMT | 14:00 IST)

(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, travelling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)