March 30, 2018 / 8:01 AM / 21 days ago

Cricket-S Africa bat first against scandal-hit Australia at Wanderers

JOHANNESBURG, March 30 (Reuters) - South Africa captain Faf du Plessis won the toss and elected to bat in the fourth and final test against a scandal-hit and much-changed Australia at the Wanderers on Friday.

South Africa lead the series 2-1, having come back from losing the first test in Durban to win in both Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, where their 322-run victory was overshadowed by the ball-tampering scandal that has rocked the game.

Returning to action is likely to come as some relief to a beleaguered Australian side who have endured a week of high drama after their captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and opener Cameron Bancroft were handed heavy bans and sent home this week for cheating in the third test in Cape Town.

The trio have been replaced by Joe Burns, Matt Renshaw and Pete Handscombe, while Tim Paine captains the side for the first time in a remarkable turnaround in prospects for a player not even considered by his state side a year ago.

Bowler Mitchell Starc, who has battled with injury, is replaced by debutant Chadd Sayers.

Burns and Renshaw only arrived in South Africa on the eve of the test.

South Africa are unchanged as they seek to clinch a first-ever home series victory over Australia since 1970. It will be the final test for fast bowler Morne Morkel.

The storm that has followed the scandal has been widely felt in Australia and saw coach Darren Lehmann announce on Thursday that he was quitting at the end of the series.

Teams:

South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Themba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel.

Australia: Tim Paine (captain and wicketkeeper), Joe Burns, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Peter Hanscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Pat Cummins, Chadd Sayers, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood. (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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