• Aus v SA: 5 key battles

    Ahead of the five-match ODI series between Australia and South Africa, we look at five key battles that can shape the outcome of the series.

    Aaron Finch vs Dale Steyn
    One eager to capitalise on the momentum gained during last week’s Twenty20 International series win and the other well rested after three matches on the sidelines, Finch and Steyn will be locked, loaded and ready to rock’n’roll. The Australian is a fantastic hitter with the ball coming onto the bat at a rapid pace, while the South African will be eager to exploit the hard and fast conditions at the WACA and beyond. A Perth crowd lined with South African expatriates will get behind Steyn, while the surrender of the captaincy – until more T20I cricket comes knocking, at least – will bring a more unbridled Finch. Winner: Steyn

    Mitchell Marsh vs Ryan McLaren
    McLaren has been South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in ODI cricket for the greater part of two seasons, while Marsh is relatively new on the scene, but has arrived with a bang on the back of a slew of quickfire cameos. The understated approach of the South African and the flair of the Australian will make for a competitive paradox, which is bound to manifest some stimulating clashes in the middle. Both men will know if they don’t succeed in one discipline corrective measures will arise in the other. Winner: McLaren

    Matthew Wade vs Quinton de Kock
    He of brash vocabulary and recent suspensions, Wade is an impetuous insult in comparison with the innocence of the rosy-cheeked De Kock. Less convincing behind the stumps and somewhat of a wildcard with the bat, the gruff Australian will have a tough time upstaging the Proteas cherub, whose responsibility will take on greater scope in the absence of fellow left-hander JP Duminy. South Africa’s slew of southpaws are proving of greater significance against a host attack intent on turning or seaming the ball away from the right-handers. Winner: De Kock

    Glenn Maxwell v Wayne Parnell
    Maxwell and Parnell are largely the go-to guys for Australia and South Africa respectively, but each consistently blow hot and cold. The spinning all-rounder was a late addition to the T20I squad, failing in the second match but pivotal in the third. Parnell, meanwhile, was outstanding in the opening fixtures before nose-diving through the last one in Sydney. Faith remains in his left-arm seam regardless, but considerably less so with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander back. Winner: Maxwell

    Mitchell Johnson v Hashim Amla
    Johnson’s aggressive ambition to all but knock batsmen’s blocks off with a sharp, short angle from over the wicket will be promptly tempered by the cool, calm and collected approach of Amla. The South African is on course for a 100th ODI appearance during this series – and isn’t far away from 5,000 runs. His average against the Aussies, though, is some 20 runs less than his career aggregate – a telling statistic in a hostile environment epitomised by the ruthless left-arm pace ace. Winner: Johnson

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