Afghanistan were dominant in the T20 series but the gap closed in the ODIs as Ireland won the fifth match to tie the series 2-2. The tourists have been able to compete better in the longer format and as they have acclimatised to conditions also, so that should make this Test competitive.
New Zealand have dominated both Test matches so far but their performance in the second Test was even more convincing than the first. Ross Taylor’s spectacular 200 came off just 212 balls as his side claimed another victory having only batted once in the rain-affected game.
New Zealand were comfortably ahead of Bangladesh for most of the first Test and they will look to continue their good form and rack up another win.
New Zealand are coming into this Test series with plenty of confidence and a settled team, and they will have big expectations.
The first match between these two was a classic and exactly the type of drama that Test cricket can offer. South Africa will still be wondering how they didn’t win the game and will be a wounded animal heading into the second Test as they look to avoid a first series defeat on home soil since 2016.
Sri Lanka have it all to do as they travel to South Africa and will need a significantly improved performance following their recent shambolic trip to Australia. Sri Lanka were poor and couldn’t handle the pace of the Australians and that does not bode well for them in South Africa against another premier pace attack.
The West Indies’ dominance in this series has surprised many but they are relishing this great run of results and performances. Complacency is unlikely to be an issue as they are thriving right now and clearly enjoying their cricket for the first time in a long time. England on the other hand are struggling throughout the team and none of their batsmen are emerging with any real credit.
It is clear to see based on the first Test that Australia are desperate to regain some confidence and pride, and will go all out for a win here to seal a 2-0 series win. Sri Lanka are short on quality and after losing two of their frontline bowlers, their chances of getting anything here are even slimmer.
West Indies were streets ahead of England in that first match and England’s fragile batting line-up was badly exposed. Psychologically they have not fared well when batting second after a reasonable score has been posted by the opposition so they will want to bat first here and put a respectable score on the board.
Australia will see this match and series as one which they will be desperate to get back on track after their struggles against India. Both teams are rotating their packs and Australia and making more changes than the tourists, but the one constant in the hosts’ team is the likes of Cummins, Starc and Lyon that should expose this fragile Sri Lanka batting order.
West Indies have been in abysmal form in recent times and it is hard to make a case for them in any Test series right now, although they are a different proposition at home.
The pitches in this series have been criticised for being uninspiring and somewhat dangerous with uneven bounce so it will be interesting to see how this one plays after the Test last year against India.
The first Test was a fantastic match with very little to choose between the two teams and this match promises to be something similar. The pitch is expected to be a little slower than Centurion so the batsmen may find it a little easier even if scoring may not necessarily be any quicker.
The toss has been absolutely fundamental in the first three test matches and it will likely be the same here with the preference to bat first in hot temperatures. Both teams will want to avoid spending a long time in the field early in the match and batting fourth so the toss remains key once again.