South Africa v Australia Third T20I
Thursday March 10, 3:00am
With the series locked at 1-1, South Africa and Australia head to the picturesque Newlands ground for the decider on Wednesday night.
After posting 7/204 batting first and reducing Australia to 3/32 in reply in the last game at Johannesburg, the series looked as good as won for the hosts before a dramatic Australian comeback sealed a series-squaring victory.
Heroes with the ball in Durban, David Wiese and Imran Tahir were this time the villains, conceding a combined 105 off their eight overs without taking a wicket. In more positive news Dale Steyn made an encouraging comeback from injury, picking up the key wickets of Shane Watson and Steve Smith, however the Proteas did miss the reliability of Kyle Abbott who has conceded more than eight runs an over only once in his past ten international T20 appearances.
Abbott could potentially replace all-rounder Chris Morris who has been expensive in both outings without contributing with the bat. A win here will see South Africa avoid defeat for their fifth straight T20I series.
The visitors snatched a much-needed victory for their first win in this format in six matches. However it wasn’t all plain sailing with their revamped bowling attack struggling to contain the Proteas batsmen as all-rounders Mitchell Marsh (1/28 off 2) and Ashton Agar (1/25 off 2) came in for particular punishment alongside the normally dependable Josh Hazlewood (0/50 off 4). However James Faulkner (3/28 off 4) enjoyed a return to form and was again there at the end with the bat to help finish off the game.
After the new opening pair of Aaron Finch and Shane Watson failed to fire, it was left to the combustible middle-order pair of David Warner (77 of 40) and Glenn Maxwell (75 off 43) to change the course of the game with a spectacular 161-run partnership. Despite the win more changes are expected for Australia with Adam Zampa and Nathan Coulter-Nile likely to be recalled for the decider.
Newlands is yet another South African ground that strongly favours the side batting second who have won nine out of 13 T20Is there, including six of the past seven. Spinners have found conditions to their liking here too, taking 15 wickets at an average of 14.93 and economy rate of 7.23 over the last three T20Is at Newlands.
- South Africa have won or drawn their last four T20I series’.
- However South Africa have lost their last two T20I series’ against Australia.
- South Africa have won only one of their past four T20Is at Newlands.
- Australia have won four of their last six away T20Is, three in South Africa
- South Africa have won their last five T20Is when batting second.
- Australia have won five of their past eight T20Is when batting second.
The Proteas are favourites to claim a series victory, although Australia’s pre-match price has shortened from where it was prior to game two, following their last-ball win in Johannesburg.
While that win ended a horror stretch of five consecutive losses for the Aussies, it’s important to remember that they got to low odds-on in all five games so the fact they finally managed to get over the line is a significant boost to their chances. Having said that it’s hard to have sufficient faith in the visitors given their previous form as well as just how close they came to losing at the New Wanderers.
In fact South Africa traded as low as 1.08 on Sunday and while they have been in menacing form, the fact they lost from such a commanding position in enough to dissuade me from getting involved at their current price too, especially for a series decider.
However there does appear to be a distinct advantage in batting second. Both games in this series have been won by the chasing side and South Africa have won seven of their past eight T20Is batting second, including their last five straight. The Australians have won five of their last eight as the chasing side and traded odds-on in the three they lost.
Most significantly Newlands has been a haven for chasing sides who have won six out of the past seven and 62% overall. Therefore we’re best off waiting for the toss and backing whichever team ends up fielding first.