Following England’s dire first innings performance at the Wanderers, they’re in for a real battle to get even a draw from the match. The best chance may be if the weather continues to be a factor, but the Proteas are now solid favourites for the fourth Test.
South Africa finished day one on 29-0 and Sporting Index’s quote for their first innings runs was set at 350-365 overnight. Graeme Smith’s side are comfortably in the box seat but there are a number of reasons to suggest their first innings runs quote might be pitched too high. Firstly, the wicket is doing plenty and Steyn and Morkel ripped through the England batting line-up. Although England didn’t manage to take a wicket before stumps, both James Anderson and Ryan Sidebottom found some dramatic late swing which will worry the South African openers.
In the last five Tests at the Wanderers, no side has scored more than 270 runs in the second innings which suggests the wicket doesn’t tend to improve as the game goes on. Now, I’m not saying South Africa definitely won’t reach the spread, but a couple of early wickets on Friday will see Sporting Index’s runs quote drop dramatically. By selling Proteas’ runs at 350 we would have the option to close out at a far reduced figure if the England bowlers get their act together first thing.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that South Africa’s biggest opening partnership of this series has been 31 so if the English bowlers can get the ball to nip around I’d be confident they can take a few wickets in the morning session.