Buoyant Proteas head for the MCG - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Buoyant Proteas head for the MCG

By James Dampney 20/12/2005 11:09:35 PM Comments (0)

After repelling the best Shane Warne and Australia could offer to force a draw in the first Test on Tuesday, selection issues are now the main worry for a South African side suddenly brimming with confidence.

Australia was heavily favoured to take a 1-0 lead in the series on the final day of the first Test at the WACA on Tuesday, but Jacques Rudolph (102 not out) and Justin Kemp (55) dug their heels in to force a draw.

The Proteas are now due for another major fillip, as the world's No.1 ranked Test batsman Jacques Kallis (elbow) is set for a return for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

South Africa also needs to find room for left-arm spinner Nicky Boje, who has recovered from a hand injury and will be included in the side for Melbourne.

A four-pronged pace attack of Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel and Charl Langeveldt was preferred for the flat WACA pitch, but one will need to make way for Boje.

Ntini took five wickets in the first innings and veteran Pollock won't be dropped, while Kallis will also fill a role with the ball.

That leaves Nel and Langeveldt to fight it out for the final bowling spot.

Among the South African batsmen, Rudolph wouldn't have played in Perth if Kallis had recovered in time, but his unbeaten ton now makes it impossible to leave him out.

Twelve or 13 into 11 won't go, but skipper Graeme Smith welcomed the dilemma.

"We're going to have some proper selection issues, but that's a good position to be in," he said.

"Nicky's fit, his hand's healed nicely. There's quite a few options available to us.

"It all depends on the game-plan. If it's a good wicket you might need to carry the extra bowler.

"You need 20 wickets to win the Test match."

Resuming on Tuesday on 2-85 and requiring a world record 491 for victory, South Africa was facing an uphill battle.

Warne was in his element, prepared to bowl all day in an effort to drag Australia home.

The world's leading wicket-taker ended the day with 3-83, having bowled 47 overs, including 21 maidens.

But South Africa was still at the crease at stumps, ending the day 5-287, in an impressive rear-guard action that has it in good spirit heading into Melbourne.

"It's a mature type of confidence, not an over-reaction," Smith said.

"We're pretty relaxed at the moment and happy with where we are.

"Going into the Test match there were some nerves, a lot of guys hadn't really played in Australia before.

"Certainly the last five days has given us more confidence and hopefully we'll be able to execute certain things better going into Melbourne.

"The characters are definitely coming through and we're just quietly confident going into Melbourne."

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