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Proteas mull change to starting XI

South Africa weigh up recalling batsman Temba Bavuma following long injury layoff and how that affects team balance

South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis has confirmed the hosts are weighing up a change to their XI as they look to level the four-Test series in Port Elizabeth starting 7pm AEDT tonight.

The Proteas suffered an emphatic 118-run defeat in the series opener after they failed to recover from a dismal batting display in their first innings.


AB de Villiers, Aiden Markram and Quinton de Kock were the only Proteas batsmen to pass fifty in the Test, with de Villiers' lone stand on day two coming as wickets tumbled around him.

The performance leaves the South African camp searching for a way to bounce back at the venue where the Proteas claimed their sole victory in the memorable 2014 series against Australia.

"We're talking about a few combinations," du Plessis told media after training on Thursday.

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"We're not sure if we want to make a change yet.

"If there is a change it will probably be one change, but we're still in talks."

Pressed further on the possible changes, du Plessis admitted it was the No.6 position dominating discussion.

Temba Bavuma hasn't played a game since January 17 due to a fractured hand, but du Plessis is confident the right-hander is batting pain-free as he looks to add to his 27 Test matches.

Fellow right-handed batsman Theunis de Bruyn would almost certainly make way if Bavuma was the selectors' preferred option, despite a fighting knock of 36 against a hostile Australian pace attack in his side's run chase at Kingsmead.

"It's obviously Temba and Theunis," du Plessis said of the selection conundrum.

"Weighing up where Temba is, coming from a long layoff, whether he comes back into the team.

"From a bowling combination point of view, we're checking what can we do to always look to get wickets.

"I'd assume no more than one change."

While the Proteas were assessing their selection options on Test eve, the tourists confirmed they will take in the same XI for the third straight Test.

Steve Smith's side will again look to exploit the reverse swing that made their bowlers so potent in the series opener, with conditions in Port Elizabeth likely to be similar to those seen in Durban.

"I think it's a very typical PE wicket," South Africa's skipper said.

"A touch on the slow side, with a little bit of grass on it.

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"I think the new ball will be important and then later on the Test match it will spin a bit, probably stay a little bit lower.

"Reverse swing generally plays a role here as well, but that is dependent on what's happening upstairs with the clouds and the moisture."

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South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.

Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights

First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard

Second Test St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13. Live coverage

Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage

Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage