Hosts underdogs at Australia's favourite venue
South Africa's first series defeat in over two years - they had last lost a Test series in Sri Lanka in July 2006 - is a massive setback for the hosts and despite their excellent record since 2000 in Cape Town, Australia will start as favourites, not just on form alone, but also for the fact that they'll be playing at their most preferred venue in South Africa. Newlands has hosted ten Tests between the teams, of which Australia have won nine, and on grounds where they've played a minimum of ten Tests, the visitors have their best win-loss ratio here. Moreover, they are the only side to have beaten South Africa in Newlands since 2000.
|South Africa (overall)||43||16||19||0.84|
|South Africa (since 2000)||12||8||2||4|
|Australia (since 2000)||2||2||0||-|
South Africa's batsmen have largely impressive records at Newlands, but in the two losses to Australia since 2000, there is a significant blip in their averages. (Click here for individual records of South African batsmen at Newlands.) Jacques Kallis tops the list with 1346 runs at 64.09 at the ground, but averages 34.50 against Australia at the venue since 2000. Neil McKenzie, dropped for the third Test, is one batsman to have done well in both categories, averaging 59 in his only Test against Australia and 52.66 in five Tests at the venue. Ashwell Prince, who replaces the injured Graeme Smith, has a century and two fifties to his name at Newlands and averages 62 but in two Tests against Australia here, he has priced his wicket at just 18.50. (Click here for the records of South African batsmen against Australia at Newlands.)
|Batsman||Runs and Average in Newlands (overall)||Runs and Average in Newlands (v Australia)|
|Jacques Kallis||1346 at 64.09||73 at 34.50|
|Ashwell Prince||434 at 62||74 at 18.50|
|Mark Boucher||600 at 46.15||81 at 20.25|
|Hashim Amla||331 at 36.77||-|
|AB de Villiers||220 at 20||-|
Ricky Ponting is one of only two Australians in the current squad to have played a Test at Newlands, scoring an unbeaten century in 2002, and following that up with 74 in the first innings in 2006. Michael Hussey had a less prolific time, scoring 6 and 14 not out in his two innings. The rest of the batsmen haven't played here, but inexperience has meant little in this series with the likes of Phillip Hughes and Marcus North proving their worth.
Makhaya Ntini is South Africa's highest wicket-taker at Newlands with 51 in 12 Tests but Dale Steyn has proved more lethal, taking 20 wickets in four Tests at 20.95. Paul Harris's left-arm spin has earned him eight wickets here including a four-wicket haul in the five-wicket win against India in 2007.
Like in most South African venues, the pitch in Newlands has proved far more conducive to pace. Fast bowlers have taken 267 wickets at 31.68 since 2000, while spinners have managed 84 at 41.91 with just one five-wicket haul - Shane Warne bagged six wickets in a marathon 70-over spell in 2002.
|Bowling type||Overs||Runs||Wickets||Average||Strike Rate||5w/10w|
In the last 12 Tests at Newlands, the side winning the toss has opted to bat on ten occasions, and lost seven of these Tests. Conditions at Newlands have been most favourable for batting in the second and the fourth innings, though the toss trend at the venue has ironically followed the opposite path.
Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo