After a cracker-jack of a Test match in Centurion, that saw the hosts take the lead in the four-match Test series, the two teams are ready to lock horns once more at the Newlands in Cape Town.
England comfortably lead as far as the head-to-head record is concerned. The visitors have won 61 of the 150 Tests played between the two countries with 34 going to South Africa.
Despite the loss in the last Test, England still hold the aces in the last five Tests against South Africa with three wins. The hosts have won the other two.
Ground Details and Team Combination
The Newlands has hosted 57 Tests, the most for any ground in South Africa. Being one of the more batting friendly wickets in South Africa, it saw a high scoring encounter when these two side met here in 2015-16. Both sides scored 600+ in their first innings and Ben Stokes smashed a memorable 258.
Since December 2015, the pitch at Newlands has the highest runs/wicket (30.6) and highest balls/wicket (53.2) ratio among the five major Test venues in the country.
So packing your side with at least five solid frontline batsmen, along with the keeper, is imperative.
It is advisable to not focus on picking spinners in your side for the match. Since December 2015, they have taken a wicket per 104.4 balls as compared to 49 balls for pacers. Their numbers are worse here than any of the top five venues in South Africa.
In case the two teams pick a spinner, it will only be to contain one end while giving a break to their premier pace bowlers.
Delving deeper into the different bowlers from the two teams, the four main bowlers from both sides have an experience of playing at Newlands. While Philander and Kagiso Rabada have taken a wicket every 37.3 and 32 balls here, James Anderson has taken a wicket per 52.3 balls. Stuart Broad has not enjoyed this venue and has picked just three wickets at 150 balls per wicket. This is way above the average balls per wicket for right-arm pacers here since December 2015 (47.8)
Since there are a lot of all-rounders on display from both sides, it is advisable to include most of them. A combination of five frontline batsmen including the wicket-keeper, three pace bowling all-rounders, and three fast bowlers could be the way to go for this Test.
In the last few years, Vernon Philander has been one of the most successful fast bowlers for South Africa at home. In the last 17 matches, he has played at home, he has picked 67 wickets at almost 43 balls per wicket.
Additionally, his handy batting low down the order is another component which adds his value as a player for fantasy cricket. Since December 2015, his average at home has been a decent 18.8. Since 2017, his overall Test average is 25.7. His exploits with the bat can be judged by his contributions of 35 and 46 in the low scoring first Test.
Since his debut in 2015, no other bowler has taken wickets at a better rate than Kagiso Rabada. He has taken 134 of 190 wickets at home. His career strike-rate of 40 balls per wicket improves to 32.7 balls per wicket at home. Keep him out of the team at your own peril.
Sam Curran has been the unsung hero of English cricket since his debut. A player always fighting for his position in the side, Curran pushes himself to note-worthy performances in every game. He has picked 32 since his debut at 54.5 balls per wicket that is bettered by only two other English bowlers. Like Philander, he has the ability to score crucial runs lower down the order. A Test batting average of 29.1 speaks for itself.
It is tough to look past Ben Stokes in any team. Even more so if the game is played at a venue where he knocked up 258 last time around. A crucial entity for England with bat and ball, Stokes has scored 821 runs in 2019 at an average of 45.6, the highest for England last year. Bowling less frequently lately due to injury concerns, he picked 22 wickets at 66.1 bowls per wicket.
With his team under pressure, Stokes will once again be geared up for a defining performance at a venue where he has been very successful.
It is going to be another Test played under pleasant weather condition. The temperatures will hover around 21-degree mark even during the afternoon hours. There is cloud cover from the second day onwards that might help the seamers. However, the rain is unlikely to hamper the action at any time during the Test.
Quinton de Kock, Joe Root, Faf du Plessis, Rory Burns, Zubayr Hamza, Ben Stokes, Sam Curran, Vernon Philander (c), Kagiso Rabada (vc), Jofra Archer, Anrich Nortje