Third Test preview: England v South Africa

It has been a topsy turvy old series between these bitter rivals with plenty of edge and intensity and the third Test between England and South Africa promises more of the same.

The Proteas flipped the script in Nottingham shifting all the pressure onto the hosts with a clinical bowling display and gutsy batting.

You fancy though, if the pitch plays like a typical Oval wicket that will give England the edge.

In seaming conditions few teams are a match for the Proteas as New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka have discovered in recent times.

The return of Kagiso Rabada will likely not thrill the England batsman who found the Proteas attack too hot to handle in Nottingham even with their leading wicket-taker over the last year absent.

As the match wears on expect left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj to become a factor, his action may look innocuous but only Rabada has claimed more wickets for the Proteas in the last year.

The Proteas have a few batting concerns of their own, with opener Heino Kuhn struggling on his introduction to Test cricket.

England have made two forced changes with Essex batsman Tom Westley and Middlesex seamer Toby Roland-Jones set to debut while a third debut could be had if England opt for Batsman Dawid Malan over spinning allrounder Liam Dawson.

They were made to regret the exclusion of Adil Rashid against Pakistan at the Oval last year when Yasir Shah ripped through their batting in the second innings while England played just Moen Ali and that may factor in Dawson's favour.

Keaton Jennings like Kuhn will be under pressure after an indifferent start to the series with many clamouring for Mark Stoneman's inclusion in the England XI.

We expect another even tussle with an under pressure England the narrow favourites by virtue of their game changing lower middle-order and the consistency of Broad and Anderson.

The Proteas are honing in on the England weaknesses and any assistance from the pitch could give them a decisive edge.

Key Players

Much hinges on the performance of Joe Root as we saw in Trent Bridge, England struggle when he doesn't shine.

As the match wears on we expect Moeen Ali to become the key bowler for England.

More than ever the Proteas need the steady influence of Hashim Amla as their middle order struggles and who could forget his triple ton here.

Vernon Philander proved his value to the Proteas at Trent Bridge as he led the attack and made contributions with the willow expect more of the same

Teams

England XI (likely): Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Tom Westley, Joe Root (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Ben Stokes (vc), Moeen Ali, Liam Dawson, Stuart Broad, Toby Roland-Jones, James Anderson.

South Africa (likely XI): Dean Elgar, Heino Kuhn, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Chris Morris, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Morne Morkel
 
Last five head-to-head results

2017 Second Test: South Africa won by 340 runs at Trent Bridge
2017 First Test: England won by 211 runs at Lord's
2016 Fourth Test: South Africa won by 280 runs at Centurion
2016 Third Test: England won by 7 wickets at the Wanderers
2016 Second Test: Drawn match at Newlands

Details

July 27-31

Morning session: 11:00-13:00 (10:00-12:00 GMT)
Afternoon session: 13:40-15:40 (12:40-16:40)
Evening session: 16:00-18:00 (15:00-17:00)

Umpires: Aleem Dar, Joel Wilson
TV Umpire: Kumar Dharmasena
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle

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