The Proteas haven’t made the greatest of starts to their tour of Australia after going down to the Prime Minister’s XI by 4 wickets on Wednesday in Canberra. It’s a new-look South African side compared to the one that last toured down under, but there’s still a potent-mix of genuine talent in this team. Australia has had problems of their own ever since that ball-tampering scandal at Cape Town earlier this year, they’ll be hoping to win back some of the public’s support with a solid showing against the Proteas in this ODI series.
It’s hard to predict what we should expect when these two teams reunite in Perth on Sunday. The general vibe is that things might get heated even without Smith and Warner in the team, South Africa aren’t one to forget something as big as what went down earlier this year in the test series. Australia will open their summer of cricket at Perth Stadium as they look to gain some much-needed momentum before India hits our shores. If ever there was a time to strike against the Proteas, now would be the time given that some of their key names are out injured. Opening batsman Aaron Finch will lead the Aussie ODI side this summer replacing Tim Paine whose days look numbered in this format of the game. Exciting South Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey has been handed the gloves as well as the vice-captaincy with Josh Hazlewood as Australia looks to start a new chapter after a rather-forgettable 2018. That trademark-batting collapse overseas shouldn’t be an issue back home, the Aussies are relatively-equip on their own pitches and tend to bully opposition bowlers who don’t have a lot to work with.
Expect Aaron Finch to have a big series with the bat, he’s the type of player who likes to score in boundaries which is a rewarding-asset to have when batting in Australia. With a variety of options to open the batting alongside Finch, Travis Head appears to be the likeliest given his past-performances in that position. Hard-hitting Queenslander Chris Lynn will have to up his game this summer if he wants to hold his spot in the side, he averages under 20 in both ODI and T20I cricket (despite having only played one career ODI). All-rounder Marcus Stoinis could be the wildcard of the series, he’s developed into an exciting top order batsman whose bowling is an added bonus these days. The 29-year-old averages 45.85 in this format, and his last outing at this venue was an impressive one against England scoring 87 at No. 3. The home side has conjured up a very potent fast bowling cartel for the series. Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood return to the side after spending some time on the sideline, while Mitchell Starc looks set to feature in the first match of the summer after sitting out the T20 series against Pakistan. There’s plenty to look out for on Sunday; Glenn Maxwell is always a bundle of energy with the bat and in the field while Mitchell Starc’s thunderbolts should prove hard to handle on a surface that is expected to assist the seamers.
Injuries to Hashim Amla and JP Duminy has slightly hampered South Africa’s preparations ahead of their limited-overs tour of Australia, although they’d still be quietly confident they can take down this green and gold outfit who’re also missing some relatively handy individuals in Steve Smith and David Warner. The Proteas biggest weapon in this upcoming ODI series has to be their youthful fast bowlers – speed, pace and accuracy is the name of the game for Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi. We know what an exceptional talent Rabada is with the ball in his hand, but apparently that wasn’t enough to completely satisfy South Africa with the addition of 22-year-old quick Lungi Ngidi who’s already taken 22 wickets in 10 ODI’s. The Proteas are renowned for producing quality fast bowlers, so this comes as no great surprise. Given that most of Australia’s venues favour the batsmen, these two zippy seamers and Dale Steyn should give Australia a run for their money. It’s crucial that they back up their bowlers with the bat, no Amla, Duminy and de Villiers is a concerning factor in that regard. Australia will target both Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock who are both widely-regarded as South Africa’s best limited-overs batsmen on tour. A fearless-aggressor at the top of the order, de Kock should thrive in these batting conditions given his intentions to attack against the new ball.
For someone who averages 44.22 in ODI cricket, du Plessis one-day form in Australia leaves a lot to be desired with an average of 19.40. Aiden Markram’s name might be thrown around a bit in this series as well. The 24-year-old burst onto the scene against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe with some phenomenal test match knocks, he also made 66 on his ODI debut at East London. It looks as if David Miller will go head-to-head in a slog-off against Australia’s Glenn Maxwell in a battle for supremacy in the middle order. Depending on how the Perth wicket plays, these two could be very important at the back-end of the innings given their tremendous ball-striking ability. Almost 40-years of age, leg-spinner Imran Tahir is still weaving his magic with the ball at International level. Tahir’s last test was in 2015, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking wickets with the white ball. This should be an interesting three-match series, Australia aren’t exactly the red-hot favourites at home like usual, and South Africa don’t have a lot of margin for error either.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Australia | 1st ODI | Perth
- Aaron Finch
- Mitchell Starc
- Josh Hazlewood
- Shaun Marsh
- Glenn Maxwell
Wildcard pick – Marcus Stoinis
Top 5 fantasy picks | South Africa | 1st ODI | Perth
- Quinton de Kock
- Kagiso Rabada
- Faf du Plessis
- David Miller
- Lungi Ngidi
Wildcard pick – Aiden Markram
Australia (possible) – 1. Aaron Finch © 2. Travis Head 3. Shaun Marsh 4. Chris Lynn 5. Marcus Stoinis 6. Glenn Maxwell 7. Alex Carey (wk) 8. Mitchell Starc 9. Pat Cummins 10. Adam Zampa 11. Josh Hazlewood.
South Africa (possible) – 1. Aiden Markram 2. Quinton de Kock (wk) 3. Reeza Hendricks 4. Faf du Plessis © 5. David Miller 6. Farhaan Behardien 7. Andile Phehlukwayo/Chris Morris 8. Dale Steyn 9. Kagiso Rabada 10. Imran Tahir 11. Lungi Ngidi.