PORT ELIZABETH - After an innings and 220-run victory in Centurion, few will argue with Hashim Amla's assessment that it is "difficult to fault anything in the last performance." There may be individuals in the South African XI, such as the top three batsman and the recalled Imran Tahir, who will want to make statements which speak to their own ability, but as a collective unit, South Africa will only want more of the same to close out the series against West Indies before they get to 2015.
Denesh Ramdin's pleas for a better all-round showing from his team reveals exactly the opposite. He asked for "consistency" in all departments, which means the bowlers need to be tighter and batsman show better temperament.
There is no better place to ask them to do that than Port Elizabeth. Not only is it the scene of West Indies ' only Test win in South Africa, but is a gentler surface which could go some way to evening out the contest. After being dominated from the second hour at SuperSport Park, if West Indies can "give the Proteas" a fight in Ramdin's words, they will be on the right track.
With the teams seemingly running their own race, interest in the series has been low but St George's Park still hopes to deliver a sizeable crowd and a vibrant atmosphere to add to South Africa's holiday spirit.
Denesh Ramdin has called for a better all-round showing from his team for the second Test Denesh Ramdin has called for a better all-round showing from his team for the second Test © AFP Nevermind second-season syndrome - when a player is closely watched following a successful start to his career - Stiaan van Zyl will experience second-Test syndrome. He could not have had a better start to his career with a century on debut and now find himself no longer the newbie in the side. South Africa are set to blood a new batsman in a line-up which has already been through a fair amount of transition and van Zyl, with form on his side, will form a key part of holding the middle-order together.
The Jerome Taylor of December 2007 was quick and incisive and one of the architects of West Indies ' only win over South Africa at home. The Jerome Taylor of December 2014 was none of those things. In Centurion, Taylor was wayward and struggled to find his rhythm. When the leader of the attack could not find direction, it was difficult for the rest to get their bearings. Taylor needs to get it right for himself and the rest of the pack, and hope he can revive the success of seven years ago to give West Indies a fighting chance.
Another Test, another South African debutant. Temba Bavuma is likely to step into the spot left vacant by Quinton de Kock's injury as South Africa seem set to stick to their seven-batsmen strategy. AB de Villiers will be tasked with keeping wicket. A spinner is essential in Port Elizabeth and after Robin Peterson's injury, Imran Tahir will make a comeback, displacing Kyle Abbott.
Only one of the West Indies ' two replacement players has arrived in South Africa. Seamer Kenroy Peters is in the country while Narsingh Deonarine still awaits a transit visa for the UK before he can make the trip. That may not disrupt West Indies ' plans too much. They are likely to stick to the same batting line-up that did duty in Centurion with a change in the attack. Shannon Gabriel should come in for Kemar Roach.
Port Elizabeth has been described as the closest you will get to the to the Caribbean in South Africa, at least in terms of cricketing conditions, because of the slow surface and festive atmosphere. In the lead-up to the match, a significant amount of grass was left on that strip but that will likely disappear by the morning of the game. Despite the absence of express pace and carry patient, disciplined batting will be rewarded and as was evident during the Test against Australia earlier this year, if reverse swing can be found, it can be prove dangerous at this venue. But both sides will hope the weather plays ball. Boxing Day is expected to be cooler than the current mid-20s temperatures and rain is forecast for the remaining four days.
SOUTH AFRICA (PROBABLE): Alviro Petersen, Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla (capt), AB de Villiers (wk), Stiaan van Zyl, Temba Bavuma, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.
WEST INDIES (PROBABLE): Kraigg Brathwaite, Devon Smith, Leon Johnson, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Jermaine Blackwood, Denesh Ramdin (capt, wk), Jerome Taylor, Shannon Gabriel, Sulieman Benn, Sheldon Cottrell.