February 23, 2020
South Africa v Australia
Venue: St. George’s Park | Start: 11:30pm (AEDT)
South Africa analysis: After such promising signs during their series against England (despite going down 2-1), South Africa were frustratingly poor in game one against the Aussies. Not only was the 107-run defeat margin their biggest ever loss in T20s, but basic errors were committed throughout that skipper Quinton de Kock must have been pulling his hair out with. With the new ball they were far too short, allowing Aaron Finch and Steve Smith the kind of width they thrive on. Despite a seemingly strong bowling unit featuring Dale Steyn, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada, the trio (plus Andile Phehlulwayo) gave away 70 runs in the first six overs. With the bat, shot selection left much to be desired, and an inability to regularly find the rope meant early pressure built.
The uncertainty with how South Africa are approaching T20s at the moment was highlighted by coach Mark Boucher’s admission that several spots are up for grabs ahead of this year’s T20 World Cup. “Now is the time that players need to put their hands up and stake a claim for positions and there are still position up for grabs,” he said. “We don’t quite know what our combinations are going to be, and we are waiting for guys to step up.”
It’s unclear whether Temba Bavuma will get up for this one after a strained hamstring forced him to miss game one. Should he prove his fitness, he’ll slot back into opener with de Kock. Quick Anrich Nortje could also be in the mix.
Australia analysis: Unlike the Proteas, Australia has little to change after a massive win in game one extended their unbeaten run in T20s to nine matches. It was a clinic at the Wanderers, starting with the bat. In posting 196 all members of Australia’s top six scored between 18 and 45. Aaron Finch (42 from 27) and Steve Smith (45 from 32) were electric in the power play, plundering 70 runs in the first six overs. While the returning Matt Wade and Mitch Marsh got starts without going on, their presence made for a balanced feel in Australia’s middle order. With the ball, again Mitch Starc proved why he’s the most dangerous white ball bowler in the world with an unplayable out-swinger that bowled de Kock, who loomed as the danger man. After that it was all Ashton Agar, his 5/24 including a hattrick, becoming just the second Aussie in T20I cricket behind Brett Lee to do so.
There’s also a balanced feel to Aaron Finch’s bowling lineup. With the dual spin of Agar and Adam Zampa (2/9 at the Wanderers), plus the searing pace of Starc and Pat Cummins and death bowling prowess of Kane Richardson, this Australian team is starting to peak at the right time.
Barring any niggles from Jo’burg, it’s difficult to see Australia changing a winning formula at Port Elizabeth and will likely go in unchanged.
Betting: The series now moves to Port Elizabeth, where a T20 international has not been played since 2014. All four T20Is in South Africa in the last fortnight have served up batting friendly decks (although the Wanderers became difficult), and there’s little to suggest this won’t be exactly that. Despite being knocked over by a Starc wonder ball in Jo’burg, look for de Kock to bounce back in PE and top the runscorers for the home side. With the ball, Tabraiz Shamsi continues to cause problems and, in an Aussie lineup that prefer pace on the ball, is a good option in the wicket taker markets. For the tourists, Finch looked back to his dominant best in game one and appears the standout option with the bat. And while Agar picked up a bag in Jo’burg, look for Zampa to extract middle-overs wickets.
Head to Head: Australia
Top Runs Scorer – Aust: Aaron Finch
Most Wickets – Aust: Adam Zampa
Top Runs Scorer – Opponent: Quinton de Kock
Most Wickets – Opponent: Tabraiz Shamsi