We pinpoint the key elements from Friday’s series opener between Australia and South Africa in Perth.
Shot of the Day: The left-handed David Miller’s checked drive – short-arm jab, even – for six weighed in as veritable cricketing eye candy. Screaming straight into the sightscreen off the bowling of seamer Shane Watson, the distance benefited from Miller’s quick shimmy down the deck to meet the ball at its pitch. That, unfortunately, was his first and last six for the day.
Delivery of the Day: There was no love lost between Dale Steyn and Michael Clarke going into the series opener. The Australian had personally sledged the South African, who all but held an extended grudge, during the Test series earlier this year, fueling the resumption in rivalry this week. The pace ace has the bragging rights for now, though, having removed the host captain with a searing short ball in Perth.
Batsman of the Match: Miller’s commanding 65 ultimately went in vain, but showed there is more to his game than merely finishing off innings with a flurry of boundaries. Opportunity knocked this time, and certainly will again, to put in an innings of sizeable length – but it’s high time he bats higher in the order regardless…
Bowler of the Match: Seamer Vernon Philander was the only member of South Africa’s attack spared expense. Philander removed the blossoming Aaron Finch and David Warner in the same over – and later curtailed the hard-hitting Matthew Wade’s developing cameo. The moustached right-armer’s characteristic ‘fourth stump’ line needed replicating by the others, but wasn’t.
Fielder of the Match: South Africa were particularly poor in the field on Friday, dropping several catches. Thank goodness, then, for Faf du Plessis’ isolated reliability in offsetting the inadequacies of Miller, Imran Tahir and the rest of the guilty party.
Milestone of the Day: De Villiers celebrated Friday’s ICC ODI Player of the Year award by becoming the fastest to reach 7 000 runs in this format of the international game. Indian Sourav Ganguly held the record previously, but De Villiers managed the feat in eight innings less than Ganguly’s 174.
Fail of the Day: The stroke that brought the demise of opener Hashim Amla cannot be appreciated despite the calibre of the batsman. Attempting to dribble some runs down to thirdman off a delivery far too full and close to his body for a shot of such a cross-bat nature, Amla succeeded only in feeding wicketkeeper Wade a straightforward catch. Not textbook, certainly not warranted.
Key Juncture: Australia’s decision to delay the arrival to the crease of the big-hitting Glenn Maxwell’s finishing services until the fall of the sixth wicket evidently caught the Proteas off guard. The death bowling suddenly didn’t look as equipped as it was in the preceding T20I series, as Maxwell successfully – albeit briefly – forced the impetus Australia’s way.
Selection Poser: The decision to play the shoddy Farhaan Behardien ahead of the promising Rilee Rossouw in the absence of the injured JP Duminy was peculiar. What Behardien might have offered with the ball spanned just one inadequate over, while he was never going to be the stern backbone of a middle order where Rossouw could have been.
Quote of the Day: ‘When you take the head off the machine, sometimes the rest of the body goes with it. It is just the way it is. You always try to attack the senior player in the side, so you can try to spread a virus through their environment.’ – An excerpt from a pre-match interview with Steyn, referring to his ambition to target Clarke.