South Africa’s Keegan Petersen believes first-innings runs will determine the outcome of the third and final Test against England, which begins on Thursday at The Oval.
The Proteas won the first Test by an innings and 12 runs at Lord’s, only for England to level the three-match series at 1-1 with an innings and 85-run victory at Old Trafford, both games completed in three days.
Ben Stokes scored his first century as England captain in the second Test, and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes also reached three figures for the hosts.
South Africa has only scored one individual fifty this series, opener Sarel Erwee’s 73 at Lord’s.
The Proteas have a strong pace attack led by Kagiso Rabada and express quick Anrich Nortje, which has helped them to four undefeated series prior to this season, but they must make decisions about their batting lineup.
Rassie van der Dussen, the batsman, has already been ruled out of the final due to a finger injury.
With Aiden Markram averaging 15.56 in his last nine Tests, a double change to the batting order is possible, with both Ryan Rickelton and Khaya Zondo in line to be recalled.
‘Take a step forward.’
Petersen scored a brave 42 in South Africa’s second innings at Old Trafford, but he understands that such scores rarely win games.
“I think it’s obvious we need to score hundreds up top,” Petersen said on Tuesday, still waiting for his first Test century after nine matches.
“It hasn’t been there for a while, and the lower order has come through for us a few times, but I think it’s clear the batsmen need to step up and get a couple of big scores.”
“I believe both Test matches (in this series) were lost in the first innings due to batting… the team that can play that first innings better will win.”
South African left-arm seamer Marco Jansen, who was unlucky to be dropped in Manchester, may return after England’s only batting once negated the policy of playing a second spinner in Simon Harmer at Old Trafford.
After batsman Jonny Bairstow suffered a freak leg injury while playing golf, England will also make at least one change.
Bairstow has been in superb form this year, scoring 1,061 runs in 10 Tests, including six centuries.
Harry Brook, a 23-year-old uncapped Yorkshire teammate, is set to take his place.
England played an aggressive style of cricket earlier in the summer after Brendon McCullum took over as coach, but batted more conservatively in their second Test win.
The pace attack of 40-year-old James Anderson, Ollie Robinson, and Stuart Broad, well supported by Stokes, ensured there was no respite for the Proteas.
“I think the way we batted, bowled, and fielded all game is like the benchmark of the standards that we set,” said Stokes, who took over as captain from Joe Root with England having won just one of their previous 17 Tests.
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