Rabada’s return to further challenge England’s batting
London, UK - The series sits exactly level 1-1 at the halfway stage. A dominant England at Lord's turned into a dominated England at Trent Bridge, a surprisingly meek South Africa in London became the strong side in Nottingham and it's the visitors who feel they have the advantage going into the next two clashes, starting with the third Test on Thursday.
While South Africa fixed its problems from the first to the second Test, England created for itself. In South Africa's case, a change in personnel saw J P Duminy dropped, Quinton de Kock moved up to No 4 and the seventh specialist batsman dispensed with in favour of an allrounder and that seems to be the combination it will stick with.
England, though, discovered Gary Ballance has not sufficiently developed his game to become the No 3 it wants, that Liam Dawson is the second spinner as much as it wants to convince itself and Moeen Ali otherwise and that Mark Wood is not as potent as it need the third-prong in the pace pack to be.
Changes will be made with Tom Westley and Toby RolandJones confirmed for debuts due to injuries to Ballance and Wood, but there's also a mindset change needed by England.
For South Africa, whether coach Russell Domingo will keep his job if it seals the series is not certain though it would look odd if he doesn't but for now, at least he is back. Domingo returned to the UK at the weekend following the death of his mother so South Africa have been stabilised, England appear less so.
The situation is perfectly poised for a riveting second half of the series and there can be no more fitting a venue to start than The Oval as the ground hosts its 100th Test.
Celebrations will include the attendance of several former players who achieved great things at the stadium along with some current ones.
Five years ago, Hashim Amla became South Africa's only Test triple-centurion with an unbeaten 311 that set South Africa up for a massive win. He has named The Oval as one of his top three or four grounds in the world.
England: It could yet have three debutants with the decision between Dawid Malan and Liam Dawson being left for the morning after rain prevented a close look at the pitch on Wednesday. If Malan does play it would likely mean Jonny Bairstow will drop down to No 7. South Africa: The visitors shook things up at Trent Bridge and so the only change in personnel is to strengthen the attack. Rabada is back in with Duanne Olivier making way.
In the spotlight
Tom Westley: He was preferred over Mark Stoneman to replace Ballance in the XI, ostensibly to break up the number of left-handers in the line-up but his job will extend far beyond batting right-handed. Westley's main task will have to show composure and it is also a chance for him to carve out a career at the No 3 spot. Kagiso Rabada: He could have used the two weeks to put his feet up in the south of France but he used his time in the sin-bin to upskill. He spent every day of the Trent Bridge Test getting in the same workload he would have had if he'd played the match and has been training at full tilt in preparation for The Oval.
England (likely): Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Tom Westley, Joe Root (capt), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Liam Dawson, Stuart Broad, Toby Roland-Jones, James Anderson.
South Africa (likely): Dean Elgar, Heino Kuhn, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis (capt), Temba Bavuma, Vernon Philander, Chris Morris, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel. Match begins at 2pm.