After a one-sided three-game series against Zimbabwe, the Proteas finally come up against a quality ODI side, in the form of Australia, in the second game of the Triangular series.
Australia were rampant in the first game of the Triangular series, destroying Zimbabwe’s bowling, posting 350, and then completing the humiliation by bowling them out for 152. It was an ominous sign for the Proteas, who would have hoped the Aussies would take a game or two to hit their straps.
That hasn’t been the case, and South Africa will find this Australian side a tough prospect. Thankfully SA have been in Zimbabwe for the best part of three weeks now, and will be acclimatised to the conditions. They also bring heaps of confidence into the game, after two ODI series wins in the past two months, as well as a strong record in the format in the past year.
All of this means a mouthwatering prospect for cricket fans who have suffered through some dreary one-sided affairs of late. Expect a real tussle between two world-class ODI sides.
Dale Steyn returns to ODI duty after being rested (and using that time to jump off bridges) for the three games against Zimbabwe. He will be raring to go after the break, and his efforts up front will be key. The deck at Harare is slow, but if anyone from the Proteas camp can extract any pace from it, it’ll be Steyn.
Australia’s top order is formidable. Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell got the plaudits on Monday, but George Bailey can also do some damage, and if skipper Michael Clarke returns to the lineup following a hamstring injury, Australia’s batting will be very strong indeed. They even have Phillip Hughes, who recently smashed a double hundred against SA A in an unofficial ODI, waiting in the wings. It doesn’t matter who is selected, if any of those seven get off to a flyer, the Proteas are in trouble.
It’s a tough one to call, but we’ll give it to the Proteas, who come in to this game with a lot more match practice than the Aussies, their game against Zimbabwe on Monday being their first since the World Twenty20 in April.
South Africa: AB de Villiers (c), Hashim Amla, Kyle Abbott, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Rilee Rossouw, Mthokozisi Shezi, Dale Steyn.
Australia: Michael Clarke (c), George Bailey, Ben Cutting, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Phillip Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Shane Watson.