Proteas opener Aiden Markram passed fit to face Pakistan at the Wanderers
Proteas opener Aiden Markram has been passed fit to face Pakistan in the third and final Test match at the Wanderers but South Africans will have to wait until before the toss on Friday morning to find out if uncapped Cobras batsman Zubayr Hamza will make his debut.
Markram hurt his thigh while fielding in the second Test in Cape Town but he has won the race to take his place at the top of the batting order with stand-in captain Dean Elgar as the Proteas look to register a 3-0 whitewash over Pakistan.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Thursday‚ Elgar said the cricket fans will have to wait a little bit longer to find out if the highly-rated Hamza will become Proteas Test 100 to replace regular captain Faf du Plessis who is suspended.
“We have a good headache at the moment because we can either go with the four seamer option or we go back to three seamers and one spinner‚” said Elgar‚ adding that whoever is going to replace Du Plessis will be a direct swap at number five.
“This morning he (Markram) went through some serious fitness tests because you have to take that stuff seriously.
"I think he managed to get through everything like everyone expected him to but he is doing another one and after that they will make a call. I am pretty sure that he will be in a good space to play.
“Elsewhere‚ I don’t think we going to shift around the batting line-up too much.
"I think players have earned their places at respective positions. Whoever comes in for Faf will be a direct swap for that position.”
Hamza is the favourite to fill that huge void that has been left by Du Plessis and his chances are favoured by the fact that South Africa is expected to attack Pakistan with four seamers like they did in the New Year’s Test win in Cape Town.
The only scenario that will stop Hamza from making his debut is if Gibson and Elgar go the unconventional route of playing with four seamers and spinner Keshav Maharaj at this venue that promises pace and bounce.
“To win we have to put out our best side for these conditions which generally does offer our seamers more‚" he said.
"That has been our strength so far in the series.
"To change playing with four spinners is going to be a big call and I am not saying it is totally out of the picture but you guys will have to wait and see on Friday.
“If we go with four seamers‚ I will have to bowl a few overs in every session and if Aiden is fit he will also have to come in as a bowling option. We just have to box clever and do with what we have.”
Elgar‚ who will draw from his only captaincy experience against England at Lord’s two years ago‚ said he expects Pakistan to be more determined as they will be looking to avoid a whitewash.
“We want to win this series 3-0 and the summer 5-0 with the two Tests we have against Sri Lanka later‚" Elgar said.
"We are playing at home which is a massive advantage for us.
"But it is not a dead rubber because we have a massive opportunity to get up the rankings.
"They have so much still to play for as a side because they have been hurt a bit throughout this series and that is the nature of playing against South Africa in South Africa.
"I am pretty sure that they will come back stronger but if we stick to our game plans we will shut them out.”