South Africa seek to regain pride

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> South Africa go into the final Test against Australia seeking to show their series win in Australia earlier in the season was more than a flash in the pan.

Updated: March 18, 2009 09:10 IST
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Cape Town:

Just three weeks after the start of a series in which they started as favourites, South Africa go into the third and final Test against Australia starting at Newlands on Thursday seeking to show their series win in Australia earlier in the season was more than a flash in the pan.

After two successive defeats - three if a loss in the final Test in Australia is included - it is a South African side which seems to be in some disarray.

Regular captain Graeme Smith was ruled out with a broken bone in his right hand and there is apparent discord between the selectors and team management.

Veteran Jacques Kallis will lead the side after a messy controversy which followed the appointment of Ashwell Prince as skipper.

The decision of the selectors, headed by former star all-rounder Mike Procter, was overruled by Cricket SA chief executive Gerald Majola.

Explaining the decision, Majola said Prince had not been a member of the team in the previous five Tests against Australia - and that he had a tough enough job already after being chosen as an opening batsman.

Prince, normally a middle order batsman, will open with Test newcomer Imraan Khan in what seems a major selection gamble.

The selectors did not want to tamper with a settled combination in the positions from three to six in the batting order.

Prince made a double century and fellow left-hander Khan hit a century - his fifth of the season - in domestic first-class matches last weekend.

But they will face a tough battle against in-form Australian fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle.

Johnson's new-found ability to swing the ball in to right-handed batsmen and away from left-handers has confounded the South African batsmen, who found run-scoring easy in Australia but have struggled at home.

Siddle has been outstanding, bowling at pace with consistent accuracy, while the right-armed Hilfenhaus' ability to swing the new ball has made him an ideal partner for the left-armed Johnson at the start of an innings.

South Africa's fast bowlers, meanwhile, have been disappointing.

Strike bowler Dale Steyn has failed to hit top form, Makhaya Ntini has been steady but largely unthreatening, while Morne Morkel's inconsistency caused him to be dropped for the final Test.

Albie Morkel, 27, three years older than Morne, will replace his brother and make his Test debut at Newlands.

Although Albie will strengthen the batting he does not have the pace or penetration of Morne, although he may provide more control.

While most members of the South African team played in domestic matches last weekend, Steyn was rested. But he spent part of the weekend working with bowling coach Vincent Barnes in an effort to regain his best form.

Australia's only selection problem is whether to stay with a winning side or bring in a specialist spinner such as leg spinner Bryce McGain.

Slow bowlers are likely to play a bigger role at Newlands than the other Test venues although it is unlikely to offer substantial turn.

After part-timers Marcus North and Simon Katich both picked up valuable wickets in the second Test in Durban, the tour selectors may well decide the pair to share spinning duties, retaining medium-paced all-rounder Andrew McDonald.

South Africa: Jacques Kallis (captain), Ashwell Prince, Imraan Khan, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Mark Boucher, Albie Morkel, Paul Harris, Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Simon Katich, Phil Hughes, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Marcus North, Brad Haddin, Andrew McDonald or Bryce McGain, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus.

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