England head into the third test of the four match series in Johannesburg 1-0 up after the second test was drawn in Cape Town.

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England head into the third test of the four match series in Johannesburg 1-0 up after the second test was drawn in Cape Town.  Despite the final-day wickets, the Newlands Test ended up with the highest runs per wickets of any test in South Africa.

The match was notably for some superb individual performances. Ben Stokes scored the second fastest test double hundred. Hashim Amla recovered from his run of poor form with a double hundred of his own. Johnny Bairstow scored his first test hundred and Temba Bavuma scored an important hundred for South African cricket.

England’s hopes of forcing a win, already difficult on such a great batting pitch, were not helped by dropping eight catches in the South African first innings.

On the downside for England the test was evidence that bowling out the opposition on good surfaces remains and issue and the second innings collapse was a familiar tale. South Africa clearly gained some momentum in finally compiling a batting total and drawing the game easily. On the other hand only the dropped catches prevented England from being in a great position to force a win.

After the game, Hashim Amla stood down as South African captain, to be replaced by AB De Villiers

Compared to the slow pitch in Durban and the road in Cape Town, the Wanderers ground in Johannesburg usually promises fast, bouncy surfaces with good carry and invariably produces results. Only one of the last fifteen tests has ended in a draw, last year’s game against India.

South Africa’s selectors have kept faith in the squad that drew the Newlands’ Test and named an unchanged 16 for the remaining two matches against England

South Africa’s hopes will be pinned on Dale Steyn being fit, with Vernon Philander now ruled out of the series through injury. At the conclusion of the Cape Town Test, Steyn was said to be 50-50 to be fit. England are likely to be unchanged with a week’s rest between Cape Town and Johannesburg helping the likes of Anderson and Finn recover.

In the outright market there has been another shift. England were 9/4 underdogs for Durban, 6/4 joint-favourites for Cape Town and for Johannesburg best prices are as follows

South Africa 11/8
England 7/4
Draw 3/1

With two evenly matched sides, once again I think England are decent value. It is unlikely to be a draw.

For the 5th time in 11 innings since his last Test hundred (130 v Australia at Trent Bridge) Joe Root was out between 50 & 100 at Cape Town, with four of the dismissals caught behind. Nothing wrong with his form on this tour, and is likely to score a big one in at least one of the reaming four test innings avoiding the lapses of concentration he has suffered in the first two tests. His price has lengthened slightly compared to the first two tests, now 7/2 joint favourite to be top England batsman with Alistair Cook who has the key challenge of facing the new ball at Johannesburg. A lot of the bigger scores in recent Johannesburg tests come from numbers 4-6, after the main threat of the new ball has worn off and the 7/2 for Root is an interesting price.

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