Five points of discussion ahead of the third ODI at Kingsmead.
Two wins in a row is a good start, but can they make it three in a row and wrap up the series? Graeme Pollock spoke in his column of the need to complete a whitewash in this series to show how much progress the Proteas have actually made, and there needs to be some consistent performances from the players themselves if they are going to achieve this. JP Duminy scored an excellent 82 on Sunday, but his true worth to the side will come down to whether he can maintain his form. It was his partnership with skipper Faf du Plessis that really did the damage, and those kind of partnerships need to continue from the senior players in the side.
AUSSIES UNDER PRESSURE
Two woeful Aussie performances have left the side wondering why they opted to leave out half of their bowling attack. Asking three debutants to step into a new environment and perform immediately has proven too much, and none of them have had the pace to unsettle the South African top-order. Between Daniel Worrall, Chris Tremain and Joe Mennie, their figures read 0-210 from 27.2 overs. That being said, the experienced top-order are failing to produce the goods too. Get David Warner, Aaron Finch and Steve Smith out early and you’re well in the game, which is exactly what SA have done, with the half-centuries so far coming from the scratchy looking George Bailey, the inexperienced Travis Head, and tail-ender John Hastings. Much improvement is needed in all areas from Australia if they are to get anything out of this series.
WHERE WILL AMLA FIT IN?
A lot of attention has centred on Hashim Amla in between the second and third ODIs, after Faf du Plessis made his disappointment at Amla’s omission on Sunday clear. There’s nothing wrong with maintaining a winning formula, but there has to be room in the side for Amla, one of the best and most experienced ODI batsmen in the world. Pollock says move him to No 3 in order to keep the in-form Rilee Rossouw and Quinton de Kock opening together, but Amla will, and should, likely go back to the top of the order and Rossouw pushes down the order. So who does Amla replace? It’s surely between David Miller and Farhaan Behardien. Neither have had anything to write home about with the bat in recent times, but Miller’s presence in the field probably edges it. We will all have to wait in anticipation at the toss.
AUSTRALIA’S DOMINANCE IN DURBAN
David Warner is the only man remaining from the Australia side that beat the Proteas the last time the sides met here in 2011, and unfortunately for the South Africans, that was the Aussies’ fourth victory in a row at Kingsmead, stretching back to 2002. With 18 wins from 33 matches there, the South Africans have a good record, but Australia’s is better with six wins from eight. There was a fair amount of rain on Tuesday, raising awkward concerns about what happened in the first Test against New Zealand but it’s expected to clear up in time for Wednesday’s clash. It won’t offer as much pace and bounce as Centurion and the Wanderers traditionally does, which might allow the medium pacers to come into the contest more.
Whether Amla comes into the side or not, there’s still one or two decisions that need be made in the bowling line-up. There are four bowlers waiting in line to have a game, but they might want to close out the series before bringing anyone in. Kyle Abbott knows this ground very well and the conditions will suit him. It might be an opportunity to give Dale Steyn a rest. Then there’s two spinners in Tabraiz Shamsi and Aaron Phangiso who will fancy a go in Durban too. Duminy has been proving a decent option as a second spinner however, which might keep them out for another game. Dwaine Pretorius is the least likely to run on the field, with Andile Phehlukwayo and Wayne Parnell having taken ten wickets between them in the two matches so far.
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