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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Australia out for revenge against confident Proteas

Australia out for revenge against confident Proteas

November 01, 2016 16:03 IST

'It's not that feeling where in the past when we came here we had our tails between our legs, we are coming here with good history. The boys are comfortable and ready to go.'

IMAGE: The Australian players during a training session at the WACA in Perth. Photograph: Daniel Carson/Getty Images

In an era of Test cricket where home advantage is proving all but decisive, Australia's three-match series against South Africa offers the rare prospect of a genuinely even contest.

The series starts on Thursday in Perth, where South Africa ruined Ricky Ponting's farewell with a big win to clinch the 2012 series - the last Australia lost on home soil.

On the road, however, Australia, like most other top nations, have had plenty of experience of losing series in recent years and not just in the longest form of the game.

While the 3-0 drubbing in Sri Lanka in September that lost them the number one Test ranking just reinforced the notion that Australia's batsmen cannot play spin very well, the recent 5-0 ODI whitewash in South Africa was an historic humiliation.

Local hopes of revenge rest on the return of rested frontline pace bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, even if the latter is not yet firing on all cylinders after suffering a nasty gash to his leg in training last month.

Australia's batting rarely fails to fire on home soil and, even in a side rebuilding after a string of retirements, runs can be expected right through the order from pugnacious opener David Warner to obdurate tailender Nathan Lyon.

South Africa, in the absence of the injured AB de Villiers, will be more reliant on Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis but they have quality in the area history suggests is key for tourists in Australia - pace bowling.

Dale Steyn spearheads a five-strong unit featuring the experience of Vernan Philander and Morne Morkel, the enthusiasm of Kyle Abbott, and the raw pace of 21-year-old Kagiso Rabada, South Africa's cricketer of the year.

'PLAY THE AUSTRALIAN WAY'

IIMAGE: The South African team during their tour match against South Africa in Adelaide. Photograph: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

Steyn played on the successful tours of 2008 and 2012 and believes the Proteas have arrived without the inferiority complex that past tourists have brought to Australia.

"I think the guys who are on their first Test tour of Australia are coming here with a good feeling because the other guys who have come here before have done well," the 33-year-old said.

"It's not that feeling where in the past when we came here we had our tails between our legs, we are coming here with good history. The boys are comfortable and ready to go."

South Africa's success in Australia is often put down to their comfort on the hard local tracks, which can be similar to those at home, but they could face some unfamiliar conditions this year.

The WACA served up a wicket without its notorious pace and bounce last year, Hobart has often offered up greentops, while last year's first day-night Test at Adelaide Oval was something of a lottery for Australian and New Zealand batsmen alike.

What will be more familiar, even under the South Australian lights, is the uncompromising nature of the home crowds and the opposition.

"We're going to play the Australian way," Lyon said on Tuesday. "We're going to compete hard. We're not going to roll over.

"If one of our players is getting a hard time, we're going to stick up for him. We know where the line is. We headbutt it, but we don't go over it."

Factbox on test series between Australia and South Africa, which begins on Thursday in Perth:

FIXTURES

First Test: November 3-7 WACA, Perth (0800 IST)

Second Test: Nov. 12–16 Bellerive Oval, Hobart (0500 IST)

Third Test: Nov. 24–28 Adelaide Oval (Day/night, 0900 IST)

AUSTRALIA

Test ranking: 3

Coach: Darren Lehmann

Captain: Steve Smith

Squad: Shaun Marsh, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Starc, Joe Mennie, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon

SOUTH AFRICA

Test ranking: 5

Coach: Russell Domingo

Captain: Faf du Plessis

Squad: Faf du Plessis, Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Dane Vilas

HEAD TO HEAD:

Total: 91

Australia wins: 50

South Africa wins: 21

Draws: 20

IN AUSTRALIA:

Total: 38

Australia wins: 20

South Africa wins: 8

Draws: 10

LAST SIX TESTS

2012 Brisbane Match drawn

2012 Adelaide Match drawn

2012 Perth South Africa won by 309 runs

2014 Centurian Australia won by 281 runs

2014 Port Elizabeth South Africa won by 231 runs

2014 Cape Town Australia won by 245 runs

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