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26-Jul-2017 09:35:00 GMT
England v South Africa, 3rd Test, The Oval

Confident South Africa boosted with Rabada returns

London: The return of Kagiso Rababa means England's faltering batsmen head into Thursday's third Test against South Africa at The Oval knowing they will face an even stronger attack than the one that ran through them at Trent Bridge.

Despite the absence of fast bowler Rabada, banned as a result of swearing at England all-rounder Ben Stokes in the series opener at Lord's, South Africa's attack bowled them out for just 133 in their second innings.

That sealed a crushing 340-run win in the second Test at the Nottingham ground earlier this month, as they levelled the four-match campaign at 1-1.

England will give a Test debut at number three to Essex batsman Tom Westley in their latest bid to take the pressure off captain Joe Root and former skipper Alastair Cook, a county colleague of the newcomer, at the top of their order.

The weakest link of a South Africa attack led by Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel at Trent Bridge was Duanne Olivier, but he will now give way to Rabada.

At the age of 22, Rabada has already taken 77 wickets in 18 Tests at an average of under 25.

Westley has been brought in after England number three Gary Ballance was ruled out with a finger injury, although the Yorkshire batsman's lack of runs might well have seen him dropped.

Westley has been in good form for Essex so far this season, scoring 478 First Division runs in the County Championship, including two centuries, at an average of 53.11.

Significantly, he also made 106 not out against a strong South Africa attack for the second-string England Lions at Worcester last month.

Now he hopes to join "unbelievable role model Cook", in an England fightback in what will be the 100th Test staged at The Oval.

England fans will hope Westley can add steel to a top order that appeared to lack either the ability or the inclination to bat for a draw when all hopes of a win had evaporated at Trent Bridge.

Someone who knows all about building an innings is Amla.

South Africa were strengthened at Trent Bridge by the return of astute captain Faf du Plessis, who has lost just one of his 12 Tests as skipper.

This match sees coach Russell Domingo back with the squad following the death of his mother.

One consolation for England is that, recently, they have rarely suffered heavy defeats in successive home Tests.

They will hope that remains the case, with fast bowler Mark Wood looking to prove his fitness and return to form after heel problems at Trent Bridge.

Teams from:

England: Joe Root(capt), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Liam Dawson, Keaton Jennings, Dawid Malan, Toby Roland-Jones, Ben Stokes, Tom Westley, Mark Wood

South Africa: Faf du Plessis(capt), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock (wk), Heino Kuhn, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Duanne Olivier, Andile Phehlukwayo, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dean Elgar.

Match facts

Jul 27 - 31, 2017
Starts time 11:00 local (10:00 GMT)

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