South Africa v Australia Fourth ODI
Sunday October 9, 7.00 AEDT
With the series done and dusted, Australia will be playing for pride when they clash with South Africa in the fourth ODI at St George’s Park on Sunday.
The hosts wrapped up the series with a remarkable win in Durban, chasing down Australia’s mammoth 6/371 with four wickets in hand and four balls to spare. The second biggest chase in ODI history was achieved off the back of a stunning century to David Miller who bludgeoned 118 of 79 balls, including 10 fours and 6 sixes. Miller shared in an unbeaten stand of 107 with all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo (42 off 39) to see the Proteas home.
Earlier Quinton de Kock (70 off 49) and the recalled Hashim Amla (45 off 30) had got South Africa off to a frantic start which laid the platform for Miller’s pyrotechnics. Things hadn’t looked so rosy for the home side when they lost the toss and proceeded to watch the ball fly to all parts of the ground, although their sizeable target could have been even more substantial if it were not for the efforts of Imran Tahir who turned in a key spell of 2/54 amid all the carnage.
However the leader of their attack Dale Steyn did not fare so well, conceding 96 off his ten overs, the most by any South African bowler in an ODI. Steyn’s new ball partner Kagiso Rabada also copped plenty of punishment with his ten overs disappearing for 86.
Now that the series has been decided it is likely that Steyn will be rested with Kyle Abbott in the frame for selection after Wayne Parnell withdrew from the remainder of the series due to a rib injury.
Unused spinners Aaron Phangiso and Tabraiz Shamsi could also come in for contention as the Proteas may choose to experiment with their line-up in the dead-rubbers that will close off the series.
For Australia the loss of frontline bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and James Faulkner has proved to be terminal. Once again they shuffled the deck with their bowling options, but again the second-stringers failed to contain South Africa’s rampant batsmen. The recalled Daniel Worall endured a particularly tough time, conceding 78 off nine overs with Miller taking 28 off just ten balls against the young South Australian.
However Worrall was far from alone with every bowler conceding at least 6.5 runs an over with the exception of Mitchell Marsh whose spell of 1/61 off ten overs was the best of a bad bunch. It should not be forgotten that Australia’s batsmen exploded to life in Durban with twin hundreds to David Warner (117 off 107) and Steve Smith (108 off 107) complemented by an explosive 53 off 34 balls at the top of the order from Aaron Finch.
Youngster Travis Head also chimed in with a frenzied 35 off just 18 balls, helping the visitors to blast 65 off the last five overs. After sitting out the last two matches, Victorian Scott Boland could be in line for a recall as although he conceded more than 9.5 runs an over in the opening fixture, he did claim three wickets. Classy top-order batsman Usman Khawaja could also find himself drafted in, having been the only player in the squad not used by Australia so far this series.
St George’s Park
Incredibly the past three ODIs at St George’s Park have all produced the same first innings score – 262. The last two of those were chased down, while the third was defended by the narrowest of margins (1 run). The home side have been on the wrong end of all three results, making this one of their less favoured grounds. However, David Miller will be confident of continuing his strong form as in three innings at St George’s Park he has scored 191 runs and only been dismissed once.
- South Africa have now won their past seven ODIs at home.
- However South Africa have won only two of their past six ODIs at St George’s Park.
- South Africa have also won only two of their last five dead rubbers in ODIs.
- Conversely Australia have won five of their past six dead rubbers in ODIs.
- However Australia have won only one of their past six ODIs against South Africa.
After their great escape at Kingsmead, South Africa are again solid, if not substantial, favourites to extend their series lead to 4-0 with the Aussies underdogs to get off the mark.
While it’s certainly tempting to go in on the hosts again, now that the series has been secured, we cannot rule out some experimental changes in personnel for the Proteas which would make them less likely to notch up another victory than if they stuck with their full-strength XI.
Furthermore their record at the ground and in dead-rubbers is not flash, and while Australia have struggled throughout the series, they boast a strong record in less meaningful fixtures and their batsmen have started to fire. However it rarely makes good sense to back a team on a losing streak and with no evidence that Australia’s bowlers can turn it around there is also no chance that I will be siding with the visitors here.
One potential impact of South Africa resting players is that it could further weaken the bowling in what has already been a batsman-dominated series. While Australia’s bowlers have notably been unable to contain the opposition, the hosts’ attack has also struggled for much of the series with Tahir the only frontline option to have conceded less than a run-a-ball over the course of the first three matches.
As a result we have seen a staggering average of 66 fours hit per match in this series with all three games seeing more than 60 fours struck. That means that in South Africa’s last nine ODIs, 47 or more fours have been hit in seven. Australia’s recent record is not quite so compelling, however importantly against the Proteas in South Africa, 47 or more fours have been hit in four of their past six ODIs so conditions are clearly favourable for the ball finding the rope.
With the shackles released even further and some already brutalised bowling attacks potentially weakened, I’ll be backing 47 and over fours to be breached once again.
BACK – Total Fours 47 and Over at 1.50 or bigger for 1 unit.