South Africa and Australia square off in the fifth and final ODI at Newlands on Wednesday afternoon.
With a commanding 4-0 lead their home series against Australia, the Proteas will be looking to do what no other team has managed to do in the history of ODI cricket: defeat the Aussies 5-0 in a series.
Newlands will play host to the final ODI between the two sides on Wednesday with Russel Domingo’s men gunning for a fifth-straight win against the planet’s number one ranked side.
South Africa vs Australia | Wednesday 12 October | Newlands, Cape Town | 13:30
To Win Match
South Africa 72/100 | Tie 35/1 | Australia 23/20
The Proteas have been utterly dominant in this series and are full value for their 4-0 series lead at this point. Even when they’ve been under enormous pressure like in Durban, the side has dug deep and found the extra gear necessary to get over the line.
While we can’t downplay the achievements of this side in the series so far, attention has to turn to Newlands before celebrations can begin in earnest. That said, I highly doubt that the meticulous Faf du Plessis will let his charges get ahead of themselves before the job is done in the Mother City.
Where to start with the South African side? The batsmen – Quinton de Kock and du Plessis in particular – have been phenomenal. The former has played his natural game, taking the attack to the opposition bowlers while the latter has relished the opportunity to lead the side and has anchored two out of the four innings quite brilliantly.
We can’t mention the batting without bringing up David Miller’s contribution. Dropped from the side last year, many thought that Miller would fall into international obscurity. He’s worked hard of late and scored a whole heap of runs in the recent ‘A’ side quadrangular series before single-handedly winning the Durban ODI with a barnstorming 79-ball 118 under the lights at Kingsmead last week.
The bowling’s not been half bad either. The first choice seamers have operated well in dream-like batting conditions while the spinners have come to the fore in a big way. Imran Tahir – usually incredibly expensive – has been quite economical in the three games he’s played thus far. His 27 overs have gone for just 131 runs at 4.85 to the over.
The most exciting thing about this side, however, has been the emergence of Andile Phelukwayo as a strong bowling all-rounder option. Sure, he’s been lucky with bat in hand, but he’s capitalised on that luck and pushed on beautifully, chipping in with much-needed runs toward the end of the innings. He also tops the wicket-taking charts in the series with seven scalps in four matches. Let’s hope he can build on that come Wednesday – there’s nothing to suggest he won’t be able to either on a Newlands deck that should have something in it for the seamers.
Finally, I have to comment on the largely second-string attack that dismantled the Aussies at St. George’s Park over the weekend. Tabraiz Shamsi, Kyle Abbott and Aaron Phangiso played out of their skin in the crushing win, with the former’s performance earning him a call-up to the Test side to tour Australia later this year.
Looking ahead, there is absolutely no reason to suggest that the Proteas will slip up at Newlands on Wednesday – a ground they’ve typically enjoyed a lot of success on in the past. Domingo’s men will have all the momentum in front of what promises to be a sell-out crowd at one of world cricket’s most iconic stadia.
Well, where to now for Australia? The largely second-string bowling attack that has been present on this tour has largely outperformed the established top and middle order – most of whom have failed miserably for the most part.
John Hastings has led the attack admirably in the face some of the most belligerent batting we’ve seen from a South African side in a long time. He simply hasn’t received enough support from Chris Tremain, Mitchell Marsh and Scott Boland on this tour though. They’ve all been severely punished by the South African top and middle order.
The weakened bowling attack simply can’t be used as an excuse though. Just look at what South Africa’s reserve bowlers did to one of the strongest batting units in ODI cricket in Port Elizabeth on Sunday morning. In fact, had it not been from fighting innings from Marsh and Matthew Wade, the Australian total could have fallen well short of three figures.
I’m not really sure where the Australians can go from here. Even when their top order put in a world class display in Durban, the South Africans still found a way to win. Results like that can really knock a team’s confidence and it showed on Sunday as they capitulated for a paltry 167 all out inside of 37 overs.
If the Australians are going to claim a consolation victory, they absolutely have to bat through their full fifty overs. Failure to capitalise any sort of scoring opportunity will likely lead to defeat. David Warner and Aaron Finch haven’t been consistent enough at the top of the order as a partnership with either one of them getting out too early in the piece.
The rest of the top and middle order have been okay without setting the world alight. Inconsistency is the biggest issue at this point. Darren Lehmann’s men have relied far too heavily on individual performances rather than solid team-centric displays.
I feel that unless this changes, Steve Smith and his boys will board the plane home safe with the knowledge that they would have become the first Australian ODI team to have lost a series 5-0.
Verdict: South Africa 72/100
You simply can’t ignore the form of the South Africans. They’ve been completely and utterly dominant throughout this series and I don’t think that will change at Newlands on Wednesday. Back the Proteas – they have all the momentum and offer great value at 72/100.
Value Bet: Hashim Amla to top score for South Africa at 3/1
Hash hasn’t really stamped his authority on this series yet, although it must be remembered that he missed the first two games. He looked sharp in Durban and won’t let the failure at St. George’s Park get him down too much. Small stake on Amla to top score at his home ground at 3/1.
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.