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Australia v South Africa 3rd Test preview: Hosts in place to complete sweep

Australia have dominated the first two Test matches against South Africa and have a huge opportunity to wrap up a series sweep when the two sides meet in the final game of the series at the SCG.

The Proteas have quite simply failed to put anywhere near enough runs on the board in both Brisbane and Melbourne and have suffered heavy losses in both Tests as a result.

The series opener was over within two days as the Baggy Green won by six wickets, before they roared to success by an innings and 182 runs at the MCG.

Totals of 152, 99, 189 and 204 show that South Africa have not been at the races with the bat and there seems like little hope that things will turn around quickly enough for them to compete strongly in Sydney.

What: Australia v South Africa
Where: Sydney Cricket Ground
When: 10:30, Wednesday 4th January 2023
How to watch: Seven, Foxtel, Kayo
Odds: Australia 3/10, Draw 9/2, South Africa 9/1

Plenty still to play for

Australia may have already wrapped up a series victory, but they still have a lot to play for in Sydney, where a win would ensure a place in the next World Test Championship final.

However, they will have to tinker slightly with their line-up, something which is essential with both Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc ruled out by finger injuries.

Matt Renshaw and Ashton Agar have been called up as replacements, which offers a hint to the thinking in the Baggy Green camp.

Left-hander Renshaw could be included in the middle-order in place of all-rounder Green, while head coach Andrew McDonald may prefer to select an extra bowler, include left-arm spinner Agar and lift Alex Carey up to number six in the batting order.

Wicketkeeper Carey scored his maiden Test century in the crushing win in Melbourne and is 10/1 to be Team - Top 1st Innings Batter at the SCG, with Renshaw priced at 11/2 should he be given the nod.

With the ball there is also a choice to make over who replaces left-arm paceman Starc, with Josh Hazlewood fit and chomping at the bit to return, while Lance Morris is challenging to make his Test debut.

Morris is widely regarded as the fastest bowler in Australia and McDonald appears keen to see how the 24-year-old performs on the biggest stage of all.

He is available at 5/1 to be Team - Top 1st Innings Bowler, with Hazlewood priced at 5/2 if he is handed a return to the fold.

Whichever way Australia go with selection, they are heavily favoured at 3/10 to come out on top in Sydney.

Proteas problems piling up

South Africa have found no answers to the high-quality bowling on display from their hosts in the first two Tests of the series and will have to alter with their batting line-up for Sydney.

Theunis De Bruyn will miss out due to personal reasons, with Rassie van der Dussen the most likely replacement, although reserve wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen could play solely as a batter.

Whoever, is handed the call is unlikely to make much of a difference, with the Proteas' issues starting firmly at the top of the order.

Openers Dean Elgar and Sarel Erwee average 7.75 and 13.00 across the first two Tests and the South African batters collectively only have four half-centuries to show for their efforts.

Wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne is the only player to have shown some quality with the bat, averaging 37.25 in making 149 runs, including two fifties - he is 11/2 to be Team - Top 1st Innings Batter.

South Africa have, however, competed well with the ball for much of the series and they, like Australia, may be tempted to add a second slow-bowling option to their attack.

Off-spinner Simon Harmer stands by to make his ninth Test appearance and he would replace either seamer Lungi Ngidi or left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj.

Ngidi has taken just two wickets in the series to date, while Maharaj has gone wicketless at both the Gabba and the MCG.

Kagiso Rabada struggled in Melbourne after taking eight wickets in the match in Brisbane and can be backed at 3/1 to respond by being Team - Top 1st Innings Bowler in Sydney.

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