Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj has welcomed a raft of new caps to the South African squad for the first half of the four-Test series against England.
A South African squad navigating life after the Test retirements of Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn as well as injuries to Temba Bavuma and Lungi Ngidi features six players uncapped at Test level.
Bet365 have the Proteas backed at 2.20 to win the first Test in Centurion despite all their changes in players. England are backed at 2.37 and a draw is tipped at 5.50. But a draw is unlikely, given the fact that this ground has only had three draws in 24 Tests.
From batsmen Pieter Malan and Rassie van der Dussen to seamers Dane Paterson and Beuran Hendricks, the list of uncapped players in the South Africa squad is completed by wicketkeeper Rudi Second and all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius.
What Proteas spinner Maharaj said
“It's nice to have that balance between new and old faces. It's good to have that cohesion that aids the game on the field. Sometimes people have come into the Test squad and have not been seen by the opposition before and it works in our favour,” said Maharaj of the fresh faces.
“With the old experience guys, who know how to go around it's business, it's good that we can feed and learn at the same time.”
At least one of the new caps will debut after Bavuma was sidelined by injury. Van der Dussen is the leading candidate, as he bats in the middle order like Bavuma. Malan could also debut if fellow opener Aiden Markram doesn't recovery from a wrist injury well enough in time.
Selected Top Team 1st Innings Batsmen Markets – South Africa vs England 1st Test
- Rassie van der Dussen – 6.00
- Zubayr Hamza – 6.00
- Rudi Second – 6.00
- Quinton de Kock 5.00
- Pieter Malan – 4.50
- Faf du Plessis – 4.00
Maharaj, meanwhile, has been working with former Proteas spinner Paul Harris to iron out a few struggles before taking on the England batsmen.
“Harris is helping me with a technical fault that I had since last Wednesday. We've trained quite long in terms of getting something right with my action,” added Maharaj.
“It's been a learning curve for me as I’ve been finding out about my game.”
Selected South Africa Top Bowler Bets – South Africa vs England 1st Test
- Dwaine Pretorius – 4.50
- Andile Phehlukwayo – 4.33
- Beuran Hendricks – 3.60
- Keshav Maharaj – 3.25
- Anrich Nortje – 3.25
- Vernon Philander – 2.63
- Kagiso Rabada – 2.25
This match will be South Africa and England's 150th meeting in Test match cricket and an excellent time