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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Will it be a happier new year for South Africa?

Will it be a happier new year for South Africa?

December 31, 2015 14:32 IST

Hashim Amla

IMAGE: South Africa's captain Hashim Amla, centre, looks on during nets and training session. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

South Africa will hope the new year brings about a change in luck as they seek to put behind them a disappointing 2015 and get back to winning ways against England in the second Test at Newlands starting on Saturday.

One of the iconic venues of world cricket, nestled in the shadow of Table Mountain, is traditionally a happy hunting ground for the home team but they are low in confidence after losing the first test in Durban by a hefty 241 runs.

With just a two-day break between the matches South Africa will be wrestling with the demons of another flop which meant they ended the year on a run of seven games without victory.

They looked mentally fragile and devoid of the fighting spirit that characterised their rise to the top of the Test rankings.

England might only be sixth in the standings but they looked more like a team at the top with a clinical and confident all-round display.

Captain Alastair Cook, however, has cautioned against too much euphoria.

“There is also the issue of complacency and we’ve got to be careful with recovery,” Cook said.

England won the match in Durban without leading wicket taker James Anderson, who is likely to return for the second game at the expense of Chris Woakes.

South Africa's top pace bowler Dale Steyn is doubtful due to a shoulder injury and he will probably be replaced by Kagiso Rabada or Chris Morris while Quinton de Kock will return behind the stumps to lighten the load on gun batsman AB de Villiers.

“His workload was a bit more than we had expected,” captain Hashim Amla said of De Villiers’s dual role at a time when South Africa have made it clear they want to rest their talisman more.

The Newlands Test will be followed by two more in the high altitude of Johannesburg and Pretoria.

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