Dean Elgar has defended South Africa's use of home advantage, as they look to minimise the influence Rangana Herath could have on the series by preparing pitches that take longer to deteriorate. Both Port Elizabeth and Cape Town are known for their suitability for spin, something Russell Domingo pointed out as a concern in the lead up to the series, so South Africa have ordered grassier surfaces and Elgar believes that is a fair ploy.

"We've been bitten in the past going to places like India, where we've played in the desert and the challenge between bat and ball is not realistic. But this is a good cricket wicket," he said. "If you apply yourself with the ball you're going to have success and if you apply yourself with the bat you're also going to have success, as we saw in Port Elizabeth. This is not unfair - it's not to our advantage or to their disadvantage. It's a good wicket for cricket. People want to see runs the whole time but for the longevity of Test cricket this is what we need more."

Elgar admitted this was "the most" grass he had seen on a Newlands pitch especially when compared to the previous match played here. Against England last year, a total of 1415 runs were scored and only 19 wickets taken in a drawn match after South Africa lost the opening Test in Durban.

"It looked like they put the namesake into the wicket - PPC [Cement]," Elgar joked, referring to the name sponsor of Newlands. "This year there's a lot more grass and it's expected playing against a subcontinent team. We don't want to make it comfortable for them. That would just be stupid of us. Saying that it's just a good cricket wicket, like we had in Port Elizabeth."

Elgar has called the surface a "new-ball wicket" and expects there to be seam movement throughout the game, although he has not completely dismissed the prospect of turn. By the time it comes, though, South Africa could be bowling again and if that is the case, it will mean their plan will work perfectly.

"For five days it's going to have something in it with the new ball. As the game goes on the wicket might turn more, which is exciting for us batting first. The new nut is definitely going to have assistance throughout the game."

If Elgar's assessment is correct, Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott will enjoy an ideal surface. "I'm glad they're in my side and not playing against me. They're bowling very well together. It's a wicket that's going to bring out the best in both of them," Elgar said.

With so much going South Africa's way so far, it's no wonder they are quick to name Newlands a favourite venue but it's not just conditions that have earned it that title. After the Boxing Day Test was played in front of a crowd that dwindled from 6000 to little over 1000 over the five days, Elgar was happier to see a capacity Cape Town crowd and believes they should be rewarded for their loyalty.

"We could play more Tests here. Just playing one Test here a year is rude towards the Newlands crowd because they do come out and support," he said. "Players feed off that. We hear the talk that it's going to be a sellout, and it's great. I think it's awesome. It's a bit sad when you play at a smaller venue and there's not a lot of support but Newlands has never failed. It's always had great crowd support and there's always good chat. It's picturesque. As a player you always want to come back here."

South Africa are due to host at least 10 Tests next season, with series against Bangladesh, India and Australia which means Newlands should get two matches.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent