Having taken a 2-0 lead against Australia, the Proteas will be looking to close out the the five-match series when the two meet next in Durban on Wednesday.
Can Faf du Plessis and his charges wrap things up on the South African east coast or will the Aussies come roaring back into the series with a win at Kingsmead? Let’s check it out:
South Africa vs Australia | Wednesday 5 October | Kingsmead, Durban | 13:30
To Win Match
South Africa 67/100 | Tie 35/1 | Australia 5/4
The Proteas are on a different level to the Australians at the moment. Led by the Titans’ duo of Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock, the South Africans have blitzed a woefully under-strength Aussie bowling attack.
The match at the Wanderers was about as one-sided as the ODI two days prior in Pretoria. Once again, the South African innings was anchored by a Highveld local. Faf du Plessis recovered well after being struck in the hand following a wayward shy at the stumps from Aaron Finch struck the underside of his thumb. Having been at the game myself, I thought for all money that he’d done some pretty serious damage.
He would continue on as he blazed his way to a magnificent 111 from just 93 balls, before holding out in the deep off the bowling of Mitchell Marsh. He was ably supported by Rilee Rossouw and JP Duminy who each chipped in with 75 and 82 respectively.
It was Duminy’s innings that impressed me the most. He was watchful early on as he got his eye in. However, once he was settled at the crease, he opened up in spectacular fashion, hitting three sixes and 10 fours before he was bowled by Mitchell Marsh. The latter overs were capably handled by Andile Phelukwayo, Wayne Parnell and David Miller as they pushed the Protea’s total to a commanding 361-6.
Looking ahead to the next match, I don’t think the South Africans will be as dominant with the bat. The final three matches are all being played on the coast, which means there will be a bit more in the wicket for the bowlers. This shouldn’t really worry Faf and his boys too much as they’ve had the better of a largely second string Australian bowling attack so far in the series.
I simply don’t see the Australians troubling the South African top order as we move to Durban. Rilee Rossouw has been a revelation at the top of the order with Quinton de Kock and has repaid the faith shown in him by selectors when the entire country was calling for Temba Bavuma to get a crack in the opening berth. Rossouw’s two scores of 63 and 75 have given the Proteas momentum early on in their innings and have allowed the host’s powerful middle/lower order to dominate in the latter stages – more of the same will be required going into Durban this Wednesday.
It’s been a tour to forget for the Australians so far. Two comprehensive defeats on the Highveld have left Steve Smith and his men under massive pressure to perform when the two sides head to Kingsmead on Wednesday.
While you can’t really fault the Aussie bowling attack for their miserable performances – injury has ravaged their ranks with the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, James Faulkner, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson all out for the remainder of the series. This means that Darren Lehmann will be forced to persist with the likes of Chris Tremain, Daniel Worrall, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh and Scott Boland. The latter hasn’t been bad, all things considered.
The Australians have been pretty woeful with the bat thus far. A lack of any real partnerships has hindered the men in gold throughout this series. Wickets have fallen at regular intervals on the Highveld in dreamlike batting conditions.
There have been brief moments where it’s looked like the Aussies may string a telling partnership together, but they have ultimately come to nothing. Their highest three partnerships in the series so far have been 79 (Hastings / bailey), 69 (Head / Wade) and 41 (achieved twice by Marsh / Bailey and Head / Bailey). Compare this to the South Africans whose top three series partnerships have been 150 (Duminy / Du Plessis), 145 (Rossouw / de Kock) and 123 (du Plessis / de Kock) and you begin to understand where the real problem lies for the Australians.
It’s not that they don’t have the personnel to get the job done either. Aaron Finch, David Warner, Steve Smith and George Bailey are all top class limited overs players, who are each capable of winning games on their own for Australia.
That said, they simply haven’t performed well enough thus far and it’s shown in the results. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Usman Khawaja come into the side for Aaron Finch who simply hasn’t been up to scratch in this series, scoring a measly 34 runs in two matches.
Other than that replacement, I don’t really know what else the Australians can do going forward. One thing is for sure: the South Africans won’t have as easy a time against the Aussie attack away from the Highveld.
Verdict: South Africa 67/100
The Proteas have been magnificent so far and have been better in every facet of the game. The fact that you can still get close to 7/10 for the Proteas to win this game is absurd. Get on at 67/100 – one to add to all of the mid-week multiples.
Value bet: South Africa to hit the most sixes at 5/4
This is a cheeky little bet that could go either way. With South Africa hitting more sixes in the first match (largely thanks to de Kock) while the Aussies hit more in the second match at the Wanderers. Kingsmead isn’t the biggest ground in the world, and I fully expect the likes of de Kock, Duminy and Miller to clear the rope more than the Aussies. Get on at 5/4.
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.