February 27, 2020
South Africa v Australia
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town | Start: 3:00am (AEDT)
South Africa analysis: A period of three straight defeats was snapped in Port Elizabeth as the Proteas somehow got out of jail against the Aussies to set up this tantalising decider. With the tourists needing just 61 off 46 with nine wickets in hand, some superb death bowling from Quinton de Kock’s side has given them hope in an otherwise success-starved summer. And could it be third time lucky? After taking England to a decider in both the T20 and ODI series, the Proteas faltered at the last hurdle.
They’ll wait until the last minute on both Temba Bavuma and Heinrich Klaasen, who’ll undergo fitness tests at Newlands. The Proteas have especially missed Bavuma in the opening two games. While de Kock especially showed his wares yet again in game two, he’s been unable to replace the support he had from the diminutive right-hander in the England series. Questions remain with the bat, and team management have indicated that positions 3 to 6 are essentially still open.
With the ball, however, coach Mark Boucher could well go in with the same team that got over the line in PE. Pacemen Enrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada both went for less than seven-an-over while Lungi Ngidi again showed why he is emerging as one of the world’s best at the death. Tabraiz Shamsi’s 0/17 off 4 overs proved match-winning, and underlined why their mix with the ball – unlike with the bat – needs little changing.
Australia analysis: After nine T20s undefeated, the Aussies quite simply choked in Port Elizabeth. With just 61 needed off 46 and nine wickets in the sheds, coach Justin Langer admitted the team let slip a huge opportunity for an away series win. The PE wicket proved difficult to bat on late, and the Australian top six at times were inflexible to the pace-off deliveries consistently being sent down by the Proteas quicks. They’ve said it’s a learning curve, but it’s put them in a position they arguably should have avoided. One of Langer’s key goals for 2020 is to position Australia as a team capable of lifting the T20 World Cup on home soil later this year. And if they are to do that, these are the series they need to win.
It’s back to the scene of the crime for the Aussies, too, who return to Cape Town after the sandpaper gate incident nearly two years ago. Key protagonist David Warner, however, has said the South African crowds have been largely respectful on this tour. “I’ve pretty much been overwhelmed by the support we’ve had from the fans,” he said after Sunday’s loss. “The fans were just outstanding, they were very respectful. I didn’t cop anything on the fence, the kids were yelling out for autographs and we obliged as we always do. It was a great atmosphere.”
The Aussies are likely to again go in unchanged.
Betting: The Newlands deck, according to assistant coach Enoch Nkwe, might play similarly to Sunday’s pitch at St. George’s Park where both sides posted less than 160. If so, pace-off will again be the order of the day. While de Kock’s form has been brilliant, questions remain who will pick up the slack if he fails to fire. The captaincy has seemingly lifted his performances, and he remains the standout top runscorer option for the hosts. With the ball, while he didn’t claim any wickets in PE, Shamsi was superb in conceding just 17 off four overs and is a strong chance to get back amongst the poles in the decider. For the Aussies, Warner is the character that will relish returning to Newlands and as opener is similarly the standout runscorer option. With the ball, another wrist spinner in Adam Zampa could well have a big impact on this clash should the pitch again offer bite.
Head to Head: Australia
Top Runs Scorer – Aust: David Warner
Most Wickets – Aust: Adam Zampa
Top Runs Scorer – Opponent: Quinton de Kock
Most Wickets – Opponent: Tabraiz Shamsi