South Africa v Australia First T20I
Saturday March 5, 3:00am
With the World T20 tournament just around the corner Australia travel to South Africa for an important three match series, beginning in Durban on Saturday morning (Australian time).
The hosts go into the series as the number two ranked side in international T20 cricket having won eight of their past nine T20Is. The Proteas’ squad is highlighted by a strong core containing AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Kyle Abbott, Imran Tahir and captain Faf de Plessis.
Dale Steyn will be hoping to make his long-awaited comeback from a shoulder injury, especially with fellow firebrand Morne Morkel overlooked. In the slow bowling department Aaron Phangiso has been picked to support Tahir, edging out leg-spinner Eddie Leie.
After a 3-0 thrashing at home to India Australia have made wholesale changes to their squad with wicket-keeper Peter Nevill and spinners Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa all on the cusp of their international debuts in this format. Powerful all-rounder Mitchell Marsh has been drafted in, as has the injury-plagued Nathan Coulter-Nile with the likes of Matthew Wade, Shaun Tait, Chris Lynn and Kane Richardson all discarded following the whitewash against India. Steve Smith takes over as captain from Aaron Finch although Finch has retained his place in the squad with plenty of competition at the top of the order from David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Shane Watson.
Australian captain Smith is hopeful that a slower, spinning pitch will be prepared in order to help both sides prepare for the likely conditions in India for the World T20. In actual fact over the last three T20Is at Kingsmead the spinners have had a much better time of it, conceding runs at an economy rate of 7.57, compared to the 8.81 an over leaked by the quicks.
Key Stats Summary
- South Africa have won eight of their past nine T20Is, including four of their past five at home.
- Australia have lost five of their past seven T20Is, including their last four.
- Away from home Australia have failed to win 13 of their past 14 T20I series’.
- The side batting second has won three of the past four T20Is at Kingsmead.
Given both sides’ recent performances in this format it is no surprise that the home side are favourites and one could argue the only surprise is that they are not a shorter price. However the new-look Australian outfit is a bit of an unknown quantity so we don’t wish to jump in too hastily.
One area where the Aussies do look decidedly susceptible is with the ball. The personnel may have changed somewhat but after the Australian attack struggled to contain the Indian top-order I’m expecting them to encounter similar problems against the likes of Amla, de Villiers and du Plessis.
Therefore I’m proposing a strategy whereby we back the Proteas if they bat first, but then look to trade out at the innings break so we’re not opposing the stacked Australian top-order on a ground where the chasing side has had a fruitful recent record.
Speaking of that formidable Australian top order, one area where the visitors do look to have an advantage is in the first six overs. Despite South Africa moving AB de Villiers up to opener last year, the Proteas have failed to pass 40 inside the first six overs in four of their past six games and have only been ahead of their opponents at the six over mark in four of their last 11 matches.
Conversely Australia have exceeded 50 in the power-play in four of their past six T20Is and despite a poor overall record have been ahead of their opponents at the six over mark in five of their last eight encounters. Therefore I’ll be looking to back Australia to be the leading team after six overs.