Tri-Nation Series: South Africa vs Australia Preivew

South Africa & Australia square off in the 7th match of the Tri-Nations Series in Barbados.

Following an emphatic win over the West Indies, the Proteas have taken the lead in the Tri-Nation Series standings with Australia a point behind them and the West Indies a further two points off the pace.

A win for either Australia or South Africa tomorrow would all but secure a place in the Bridgetown final on 26 June, as such, both teams will be desperate to claim maximum points as the teams head to Barbados for the final leg of the series.

South Africa vs Australia | Sunday 19 June | Bridgetown, Barbados | 18:30

To Win Match
Australia 7/10 | Tie 35/1 | South Africa 23/20

South Africa
The South Africans will head into this match full of confidence in what was their best One Day International performance since their tour of India nearly eight months ago. The top order shone, the spinners bowled brilliantly while the seamers – for the most part – helped to build pressure on the West Indian batsman.

Before we dive into this segment of the preview, let’s just take some time to look at the immense performance that Imran Tahir put in against the islanders. His figures of 7-45 were the best ODI return for a South African bowler. In claiming those seven wickets, he also became the fastest South African to reach 100 ODI wickets for the country – all of this at the ripe old age of 37.

He did brilliantly to curb the attacking prowess of the West Indian openers after they accelerated to 58-0 in the first six overs as Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles pasted Wayne Parnell and Kagiso Rabada to all parts of the ground. The Pakistani-born bowlers opening six balls were full of variation and guile. Furthermore, it was the first over of the innings in which a boundary wasn’t conceded and it set the platform for Tahir to get on top of the West Indian batsman which he capitalised on with great effect.

If the bowling performance was top notch, the batting performance of the top order was world class. Hashim Amla was at his flowing best as he helped himself to a 99-ball 110. I was also impressed with the gutsy performance of Quinton de Kock. He battled his way to a 103-ball 71, supporting his opening partner and rotating the strike before his off stump was uprooted by a fantastic Jerome Taylor delivery.

Following the fall of the opening two, Chris Morris and Faf du Plessis helped themselves to scores of 40 and 73* respectively before AB de Villiers and JP Duminy partnered with the latter to push the score upward of 340.

Looking ahead, the South Africans will need a similar performance against the Australians if they want to claim maximum log points again. Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi will also look to capitalise on the Australians’ perceived weakness against spin in order to limit their scoring. I personally hope that Russel Domingo sticks with the same starting XI, although I feel that de Villiers could do with a bit of a rest. Perhaps Dean Elgar could crack the nod in his place after he was flown in as cover for the injured Rilee Rossouw? We’ll have to wait and see.

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The big news coming out of the Aussie camp in the last week or so is that David Warner will be unavailable for the remainder of the series. The pint-sized opener leaves a disproportionately large hole at the top of the order. Luckily for Darren Lehmann’s side, Usman Khawaja has stepped up and adapted to the role brilliantly, helping himself to 98 last time out against the West Indies in Basseterre.

While Khawaja has been solid enough during this series, his opening partner Aaron Finch has battled a bit on these slow surfaces. The burly opener has only managed 104 runs in four games at an average of 26, simply not good enough for a player of his class and ability. The rest of the top and middle order have been average without setting the world alight. One feels that the Australian public would have expected more from the likes of Steve Smith, George Bailey and Mitch Marsh.

The one area of the Australians’ game that has looked good has been their bowling. Nathan Coulter-Nile and Josh Hazlewood have been solid throughout the series while Adam Zampa has been a revelation during this series and has seen his stock rise meteorically since the last KFC Big Bash where he represented the Melbourne Stars, whom he helped to reach the final of the competition.

The young leg-spinner – who has been compared to Shane Warne in the past because of the similarities between their actions – uses subtle changes of pace and variation to make up for his inability to turn the ball as sharply as other spinners around the world can. Zampa will be the Australians’ main weapon against a South African top and middle order who just seem to be finding their feet at the moment.

Verdict: South Africa 23/20
The South Africans will be full of confidence after their magnificent team display against the West Indies earlier on this week. They’re confidently tipped to get one over an Australian side who are without arguably their best player in David Warner.

Value Bet: Faf du Plessis to top score for South Africa at 4/1
Faf is on fire at the moment. He’s absolutely middling everything that comes his way and looks outstanding value at 4/1 to top score, especially if the South Africans lose a few early wickets.

Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.

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