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South Africa look to exploit home advantage

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There is very little to separate South Africa and England based on the recent results, but the small matter of home advantage will give Hashim Amla and his troops an edge in the opening Test match at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on December 26th. Amlas says both teams will be looking to find their winning ways after suffering defeats in their last respective Test series.

“Our being at home for the remainder of the summer is a huge advantage for us,” he said at Kingsmead on Thursday. “ Both teams have had some challenges in their previous series but being at home is great for us, we have a good record here. Obviously having Dale (Steyn) back in our team is also a big boost.”

While the loss of James Anderson is a big blow for England, Amla believes it won’t make a big difference for the Proteas, who are focused on their planning and execution and most importantly starting well come Saturday morning.

“England have a few good bowlers,” he said of the impact of Anderson’s injury. “From our perspective, we try and pride ourselves from worrying on how we see the game, not too much on the opposition. There are other good bowlers in their squad but we don’t want to place too much emphasis on who they do or don’t have playing.

“We want to start well,” he added. “After our performance in India which didn’t go too well that will be important. No matter whom we come across on the day it’s important for us to start well. For us it’s not about who is leading the attack for England, it doesn’t make a difference to us. We are faced with our own challenges and it’s something that everybody in the team is looking forward to.”

AB de Villiers’ return to the wicket-keeping duties after nearly a year is the major change to the team that played against India last month, an effortless transition owing to the 31-year-old’s often incredulous athleticism and skill.

“AB’s preparation has been very good,” Amla said. “The last time he kept wicket was against the West Indies when Quinton (De Kock) went over his ankle and he hadn’t kept for a long time before that but he kept exceptionally well. He is the type of guy that doesn’t need a lot of preparation, but when we see him prepare like how we have seen him prepare over the last few days it only shows what a wonderful asset he is to the team. He can juggle so many things and still be so good at what he does.”