February 29, 2020
South Africa v Australia
Venue: Boland Park, Paarl | Start: 10:00pm (AEDT)
South Africa analysis: It’s difficult to remember a time South Africa went into a home ODI series as such underdogs. With some bookies offering $4+ for Quinton de Kock’s side on home soil, it’s an indication of the slide South African cricket is currently suffering.
Perhaps the one statistic the Proteas can lean on is that, in their last ODI tour there, Australia were whitewashed 5-0 in South Africa. The usual suspects in de Kock and Far du Plessis were amongst the runs then, too, with 300 and 250 apiece respectively. Ominously, however, David Warner topped the charts with 386, including two centuries. But du Plessis won’t be there this series as, curiously, the selectors have decided to rest him. This is despite him being rested in the recently-completed series against England, too. Further, Rassie van der Dussen has also been rested, meaning the Proteas go in extremely light in a batting sense. Senior player David Miller, who recently endured a torrid BBL and did not score over 15 in the recent T20 series, will undoubtedly have to step up in their absence. The growing over-reliance on de Kock to score runs is unsustainable, and the skipper needs help to post winning scores.
There is less issues with the ball, with Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje to lead the line. Test spinner Keshav Maharaj has been included in the squad for this series, but it’s difficult to see him unseating the in-form Tabraiz Shamsi for a spot in the XI.
Australia analysis: Fresh off a 2-1 win over the Proteas in the T20s – their fourth-straight series win in the format – the Aussies are riding high. And while they’re different formats, the confidence derived from the T20 series victory will carry over into the ODIs, especially as the Aussie team will remain almost entirely the same. The only change from the T20 XI (which did not change throughout the series) to the one-day team is that Marnus Labuschagne will come in for either Mitchell Marsh or Matthew Wade. The same five bowlers (seamers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Kane Richardson and spinners Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar) are likely to play in Paarl, unless the selectors decide to grant one of the pacemen a rest and play Josh Hazlewood. Playing Hazlewood is a huge temptation given his ability with the new ball but at present, Starc and Cummins are favoured ahead of him. And given Richardson plays a very different role (pace-off through the middle overs and as a death bowling specialist), they can’t swap the two as like-for-like.
Despite Australia’s resurgence in ODI cricket, they have still won just one of their last six series abroad (last year’s 3-2 win in India). Included in this is the last time they played an ODI series in South Africa, where they were humbled 5-0. As such, motivation won’t be an issue heading into this one, and coach Justin Langer will be desperate to leave the country with two white ball series trophies under the belt.
Betting: Australia has never played at Boland Park in Paarl, and in fact there’s been just two ODIs there in the last seven years. But if the pitch is anything like those seen in the recently-concluded T20 series, it may well become difficult to bat on as the ball softens. De Kock remains the overwhelming option as top runscorer for his side while with the ball, Shamsi is always dangerous in the middle overs as teams look to accelerate. For the tourists, Warner’s form in the T20s was ominous and as opener, is a big chance to top the run runscorers for the Aussies. And as one of the world’s most dangerous white ball bowlers, Starc is the shrewd option in the wickets column.
Head to Head: Australia
Top Runs Scorer – Aust: David Warner
Most Wickets – Aust: Mitchell Starc
Top Runs Scorer – Opponent: Quinton de Kock
Most Wickets – Opponent: Tabraiz Shamsi