Australia begin their tour of South Africa in earnest when they go toe to toe with the Proteas on Friday evening.
Both South Africa and Australia claimed crushing wins over Ireland in the run into one of the most eagerly awaited ODI series of the year.
Both sides are missing some key players, with the Proteas missing AB de Villiers and Chris Morris while the Aussies will be without the pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and James Falkner. Pat Cummins and James Pattinson are also absent through injury. It’s all shaping up quite nicely, let’s take a look at the first game:
South Africa vs Australia | Friday 30 September | Centurion | South Africa | 15:00
To Win Match
South Africa 8/10 | Tie 35/1 | Australia 1/1
The biggest news coming out of the South African camp over the last couple of hours (bear in mind that this preview was written on Wednesday) is news of AB de Villiers’ elbow injury requiring surgery. The operation will force the Proteas’ captain out for eight to ten weeks which puts him in doubt for the Proteas’ tour of Australia later this year.
Right, enough on who’s missing: let’s take a look at the squad that will need to get the job done against the Australians over the next two weeks. Aside from the very notable absences, the squad is about as strong as it can be. The top and middle order look solid with Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock set to open things up at the top of the order.
The latter played brilliantly in the 206-run win over Ireland on Sunday, powering to a 66-ball 82 before playing down the wrong line to a Kevin O’Brien delivery. Hash didn’t get a run against the Irish and hasn’t played since South Africa’s 204-run win against New Zealand in the second Test late in August. He’ll come into this series fresh as a daisy and will look to capitalise on a severely depleted Australian pace attack.
Another thing to keep in mind is how good these two are at SuperSport Park Centurion. Amla averages an incredible 69.20 in 11 games while de Kock’s four ODIs at the venue have been just as impressive. The diminutive wicketkeeper averages 63.75 striking at 97.32.
There was also a bit of time in the middle for JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien against the Irish. Both of them managed to grab half-centuries at Willowmoore Park on Sunday afternoon. Temba Bavuma was the other batsman who starred against Ireland, although, he hasn’t been selected for this series – much to the ire of many South African cricket fans.
While South African batting line-up looks good, the bowling attack looks even tastier! Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada will spearhead an attack that could include the likes of Kyle Abbott, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir, Wayne Parnell and Andile Phelukwayo.
One thing is for sure, the guys selected to do the job with the ball will all need perform against a very strong Australian batting unit. That said, there is a decent blend of youth and experience within the attack and should challenge the Aussie top order come Friday.
The Aussies come into this series absolutely ravaged by injury. It’s now at the point where John Hastings and Scott Boland are set to lead the attack against one of the most destructive One Day International sides on the planet.
While their bowling attack may be depleted, their batting order looks as strong as ever. Usman Khawaja and David Warner form a lethal partnership at the top of the order, while Steve Smith, George Bailey and Travis Head provide stability in the middle order. They’ll all need to pull their weight if they’re to give their compromised bowling attack a sniff.
They played well against Ireland on Tuesday, with Khawaja, Warner and Smith making short work of the Irish total of 198. What will worry the Australians, is how well the likes of William Porterfield, Paul Stirling and John Anderson dealt with Mitchell Marsh and John Hastings.
One player that may well hold the key for the Australians is Adam Zampa. The young leg-spinner has enjoyed a breakthrough year since his ODI debut in February. He’s managed 25 wickets in 13 games at an average of 22.00. His economy rate is incredibly good for a leg-spinner too, conceding just 4.8 runs an over thus far. If he can trust his flight and get the ball to turn on some pretty stubborn surfaces, he will find himself among the wickets.
Looking ahead, I don’t think that the Australians have an attack that can win the first ODI in Pretoria. Ideally, they would need genuine pace merchants like Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins to cause the South African batsmen issues on the lightening quick SuperSport Park deck.
Verdict: South Africa to win at 8/10
At full strength, both of these sides would be equally matched. However, with Australia’s current bowling crisis; I simply don’t see them troubling the South Africans. Back the Proteas confidently at 8/10.
Value Bet: Quinton de Kock to top score for SA at 7/2
De Kock is a different class at SuperSport Park Centurion. He’ll be licking his lips at the prospect of facing a very undercooked Australian bowling attack. Small stake on the Titans’ wicketkeeper-batsman this Friday.
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.