The T20Is between South Africa and Australia are done and
dusted, and it’s on to the ODIs now. That might seem a bit irrelevant at the
moment, what with the T20 World Cup fast-approaching, and ODIs not really the
agenda for any of the top international teams.
Despite that, the ODIs continue to provide an opportunity to
gauge players’ readiness at this level, and that will be, to a degree, the
focus when the teams begin their three-match ODI series in Paarl on Saturday.
Australia will head in the more confident side, though. The
manner of their two victories in the three-match T20I series was dominant and
morale-boosting, and they will look to carry on the momentum to the ODIs.
David Warner and Steve Smith, two players who don’t have the
fondest memories of playing in South Africa, have gone about brandishing those
painful echoes, and been in fine form. The likes of Aaron Finch and Marnus
Labuschagne adds to the veneer of solidity to the side, and with the bowlers as
formidable as ever, Australia look the favourites at the outset.
That said, it’s difficult to write-off South Afirca, if only
because they’ve so far been quite unpredictable under Quinton de Kock. They can
spring a surprise on any team – they did that to England – and it remains to be
seen which version of South Africa comes to play on Saturday.
As far as personnel is concerned, the return of Keshav Maharaj
to the squad is curious – he has been in fine form in domestic cricket, but has
only ever played four ODIs. This is his chance to stake a claim for a more permanent
role in the team. Meanwhile, former captain Faf du Plessis continues to miss
out – he is rested for the series, along with Rassie van der Dussen and Dwayne
Head to head
The rivalry has been neck-and-neck. There have been 100
matches played, and both teams have won 48 games each. However, South Africa
have won eight of their last nine encounters in the format, the latest of those
victories coming during the World Cup in Manchester last year.
Quinton de Kock (South Africa): South Africa’s
captain has been carrying the team recently. He has been in fine form, and when
he gets some support, South Africa tend to win. Unfortunately, on the odd occasion
he doesn’t perform, the team crumbles. De Kock is the single most important
player in South Africa’s ranks at the moment. Australia will be aware of the
importance of his wicket.
David Warner (Australia): The dashing opener has been
in fine form recently, and it’s as though he’s determined to wash over the memories
of the last time he was in South Africa, and got embroiled in the
ball-tampering scandal. Warner’s quick starts can take South Africa out of the
game all too soon, so his is a wicket they’ll be desperate for.
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (c/wk), Janneman Malan,
Temba Bavuma, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Jon-Jon Smuts, Andile
Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve
Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Matthew Wade, Pat
Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa
Australia to capitalise on momentum and make it 1-0.