The Proteas are looking to continue their unbeaten run in 2012 as they head into the third and final Test against Australia. Photo by: Aman Sharma

Johannesburg – The Proteas are looking to continue their unbeaten run in 2012 as they head into the third and final Test against Australia, which begins in Perth on Friday.

South Africa, the number one ranked Test side in the world, can hold onto the title if they draw or win the Test match in Perth. The first two Tests against Australia were drawn.

Proteas' captain Graeme Smith hoped his side would continue their unbeaten run and maintain their away series record, having not lost an away series since 2006.

“We have played eight out of our nine Tests away from home this year, and we haven't lost a Test match. I think it has been a pretty strong year for South African cricket,” Smith said in Perth on Thursday afternoon.

“We are here with an opportunity; we are five days away from being able to win another series in Australia.

“I think many teams dream of that coming to this place, 1/8and 3/8 there are a few of us sitting in our changeroom who have the opportunity to do it twice: that's our goal.”

The balance of the South African team for the match has been widely reported on, with uncertainty over Jacques Kallis' involvement, giving the selectors several options to consider.

Robin Peterson looks set to make a return to the Test team for the first time since playing against Bangladesh in 2008, while Vernon Philander is back in the fold after recovering from a stiff lower back that kept him out of the second Test.

“We need to look at the balance of our team and decide on that initially,” Smith said.

“We have to have bowlers and the armoury to do that. That is our big test: to take 20 wickets in the next five days and to win this Test match. We want to give ourselves the best opportunity to do that.

“Robbie 1/8Peterson 3/8 has come into contention. Imran 1/8Tahir 3/8 by his own admission didn't perform that well during the last Test match and his confidence is a bit low.”

Smith said the team's job was to rebuild Tahir's confidence and give him some direction when the Proteas return to South Africa for the summer.

The match will hold sentimental value for Australia's Ricky Ponting, who announced on Thursday that he would retire from international cricket come the end of the series.

“Initially, it was a bit of a shock, after the week,” Smith said about Ponting's announcement.

“The way... and the intensity with which he (Ponting) played the game does him great credit. I think he has always represented Australia with a lot of dignity and a lot of skill.” – Sapa