Elgar to captain SA in final Test

Dean Elgar

JOHANNESBURG — Opening batsman Dean Elgar will captain South Africa in the third and final Test against Pakistan, starting at the Wanderers Stadium Friday, Cricket South Africa announced Wednesday.

Elgar, 31, will stand in for regular captain Faf du Plessis, who was suspended for one match after South Africa fell short of the required over rate during their nine-wicket win in the second Test at Newlands.

It was the second offense under Du Plessis’s leadership within a 12-month period.

It will be the second time Elgar has captained the side. He led South Africa in the first Test against England at Lord’s in 2017 when Du Plessis returned home for the birth of his first child.

South Africa has also called up uncapped Pieter Malan on standby for Elgar’s opening batting partner, Aiden Markram, who will undergo a fitness Test Thursday.

Markram suffered a badly bruised right thigh while fielding during the second Test at Newlands and was unable to bat in the second innings.

Malan, 29, has performed consistently as an opening batsman for the Cape Cobras franchise, scoring seven centuries during the past two seasons.

South Africa is set to hand a debut to batsman Zubayr Hamza.

Hamza, 23, will be a replacement for du Plessis.

It could see a shuffle of the batting order with Temba Bavuma moving to No. 4, De Bruyn to five and Hamza taking his place at six.

“It is disappointing losing Faf, he plays an immense role in the team both on and off the field,” South Africa coach Ottis Gibson told reporters, adding the team was determined to sweep the series.

“Last year we had a mission within the team to win 3-0 against India to help us get back to No. 1 (in the test rankings), but then we got up to Johannesburg, changed the team and lost the Test match.

“We are aware of that, and we have a mission to not only win the next Test, but also the two against Sri Lanka (in February) as well. The squad is hungry to finish the series off on a high.”

Pakistan showed signs of an improved batting performance in the second Test but is likely to face another lively wicket at the Wanderers that will be well-suited to South Africa’s barrage of seamers.

Coach Mickey Arthur has suggested there will be changes to the side for the series finale, which is followed by five One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 matches.

One of these could see the return of 20-year-old all-rounder Shadab Khan, most likely for ineffective fellow leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who took just a single wicket in the opening two Tests.

“Shadab is a genuine all-rounder,” Arthur said. “It allows us, like we did at Lord’s (in 2018), to have him at seven, Faheem (Ashraf) at eight, and then three bowlers, which can be any of the quicks or even Yasir Shah if we think the pitch is going to turn. It gives us that flexibility.” — Agencies