The Proteas must prepare for another bout at pacy Perth, the second ODI scheduled for the same venue as South Africa’s 32-run loss, the WACA. The margin of victory slightly flatters the tourists, as a pugnacious last-wicket stand frustrated the Australians following a late order collapse. It was not only a soft tail that cost the Proteas, but a plethora of errors in the field. Chasing is never easy in Perth, but the pace barrage the Proteas endured calls into question their ability to handle the wicket on the second time of asking. However, it is not all doom and gloom.
To Win (Prices to be updated upon release)
South Africa 27/20
The hosts were off the a flyer with potent opening partners David Warner and Aaron Finch taking Australia to 94/0 after fourteen overs. The fifteenth proved to be their undoing, as Vernon Philander claimed both scalps and set Australia on course to a period of prolonged pressure. The loss of careless wickets ensured the middle order departed cheaply, and South Africa were well on top having Australia 144/5. However, the rot had started beforehand with rudimentary dropped chances and George Bailey well and truly rode his luck in a partnership with stand-in wicketkeeper Matthew Wade. Having struggled in the middle of the innings, Australia pulled it back superbly including an almost comical cameo from Glenn Maxwell. Only one of his five fours came in front of the wicket, edges flying to the boundary. Calling his missed reverse sweep off Vernon Philander audacious would be overly complimentary. The Aussies finished on 300/8 from their fifty overs, knowing the Proteas would have to pull off a record chase at the ground for victory. Captain Michael Clarke’s strained hamstring will be the biggest concern in the camp, while the destructive nature of Nathan Coulter-Nile and Mitchell Johnson will have the Australians positively buoyant.
Simple chances were shelled all over the ground and eventually cost South Africa the match as the hosts amassed a score that was always going to prove a tall order. To drop George Bailey four times on his way to 70 was simply criminal. It must be said that on wickets that offer little to nothing for Imran Tahir, his fielding becomes a downright liability. What was AB de Villiers thinking having him on the cow corner boundary during Bailey’s blitz? I suppose we’ll never know. Vernon Philander was certainly the pick of the bowlers on the wicket, silencing critics of his ability Down Under. Steyn conceded more than usual and Ryan McLaren was poor in both departments. In fact, he doesn’t justify his place in the squad as an all-rounder, bowler or batsman. He’s a glorified stop-gap and is plain petrified of short, fast bowling. He will battle during the World Cup if persisted with. Amla perished to an uncharacteristic shot that he had no business playing. It wasn’t a great day for the Proteas but one must believe that on better days, those catches would’ve stuck, the errors in judgement shelved and the top order more responsible in chasing down a large target.
Pace is the name of the game at the WACA and the short ball will be prominent. If bowlers miss their length there are plenty of opportunities to score. The highest successful chase at the ground is 274, making the toss a very good one to win. The weather is forecast as clear.
VERDICT: Australia 6/10
Not many in the Proteas camp looked composed against the sheer aggression and pace delivered by Australia. The only player who did, captain AB de Villiers, may be in line for suspension following a slow over rate. I think that the South African batting line-up is too fragile for this ground. Back the Aussies.