JOHANNESBURG: New South Africa captain AB de Villiers won the toss and elected to bat at the start of the third test against England at the Wanderers on Thursday as the hosts awaited the late arrival of a replacement wicketkeeper.
De Villiers, who has taken over from Hashim Amla, said the decision was based on the batting form of his team from the second test in Newlands, where they fought valiantly to earn a draw after England had scored 626 runs in the first innings.
“It wasn’t an easy decision but we want to put some pressure on England. We turned things around as far as our confidence is concerned in Cape Town and we come into this game energised,” De Villiers said in a pitchside interview.
South Africa, who trail the four-match series 1-0, made two changes from the second test, one under bizarre last-minute circumstances.
Wicketkeeper Dane Vilas was forced to make a desperate dash to the ground after being called up as a late replacement for the injured Quinton de Kock.
Vilas was destined to arrive late for the first ball at 10:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) because Cricket South Africa could not book him on a flight earlier than 8 a.m. from Port Elizabeth, where he was due to play in a four-day provincial match.
Flights from the coastal city to Johannesburg take two hours and the usual heavy traffic from the airport to the stadium looks set to add more drama to the dash.
De Kock sustained a freak injury to his right knee on Wednesday.
“Quinton slipped and sprained his right knee at home late yesterday afternoon,” South Africa manager Mohammed Moosajee said on Thursday.
South Africa have also handed a debut to fast bowler Hardus Viljoen at the expense of spinner Dane Piedt.
England, who won the first test by 241 runs in Durban, were unchanged despite several of the side recovering from a stomach virus that swept through the squad in Cape Town.
South Africa: Stiaan van Zyl, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers (captain), Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, Dane Vilas (wicketkeeper), Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Hardus Viljoen
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Alex Hales, Nick Compton, Joe Root, James Taylor, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, James Anderson.