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|Faf du Plessis||10||24||0||0||41.67|
|Quinton de Kock||47||40||7||0||117.50|
An ODI series between Australia and South Africa is always exciting. The two teams have fought intensely over the last few years and developed what is a fierce rivalry. South Africa has an excellent record in Australia and has won test tours here with remarkable consistency. They were also involved during the whole ball-tampering incident which makes this series even more interesting.
Australia has just been hammered by Pakistan in UAE and will be very happy to return to familiar settings. There is a lot of pressure on the side to perform in the absence of David Warner and Steve Smith from the side. They will be bolstered by the return of Hazelwood, Starc, and Cummins to the ODI team as they build to a high-profile summer of cricket.
South Africa is going to come hard at the Aussies and try to establish dominance straight away. They are, however, missing a few of their key players because of injury as well. A three-match series leaves no room for error and makes winning the first match very important. Which side will start stronger?
The Australian players would have been kissing Australian soil after they returned from a horrific tour of the UAE. They were outclassed and outsmarted by a Pakistan side that knew the conditions like the back of its hand.
Australia had taken with it the best of its available players but they did not adapt to the challenge and were found wanting. Now that they are back home and playing in their own conditions, the public will not be as forgiving. Simply put, Australia is running out of leeway to re-build and get back to its winning ways.
Leading the side will be Aaron Finch, who is going to be crucial to the batting fortunes of Australia as well. Finch had a good test tour of the UAE but his limited-over returns were bad. His importance to the struggling batting order as a whole is going to be immense against a high-quality bowling attack.
Finch is likely to partner with Darcy Short at the top of the order. He is the one player that we are backing to be the highest scorer for Australia in this series. He has the ability to play for a long period of time at a steady strike rate and then explode when needed.
Following these two will be Chris Lynn at number three. Lynn has struggled with injuries and with form of late. He is, however, a colossus in Australian conditions. We think he is going to do well too and cement his place in the side for the ICC World Cup 2019.
The rest of the team selection could get very interesting. Australia could decide to go for Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, and Glen Maxwell at 4,5,6 respectively. Alex Carey comes in at 7 and then the four bowlers.
This would mean that Head, Maxwell, and Short have to combine for ten overs to fill up the fifth bowler quota.
Alternatively, Australia could add Marcus Stoinis in the mix instead of either one of these three batsmen. Picking the four bowlers is not going to be easy either. Starc, Hazelwood, and Cummins are all available and we would think they would walk into the side.
Adam Zampa is the only wrist-spinner in the squad so he should get a go as well. This means leaving out Nathan Coulter-Nile and Ashton Agar both of whom have been very good for Australia in the chances they have received.
Bowling is not going to be a problem for Australia in our opinion. It’s just their batting that needs a wakeup call.
Aaron Finch, TM Head, D'Arcy Short, Chris Lynn, Alex Carey, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, JR Hazlewood.
Faf du Plessis stated clearly before the tour that he expected a tough fight from the Aussies and a hostile reception from the crowd. Considering that du Plessis has been charged for ball tampering twice in his career, he is probably going to cop a lot from the Australian crown which is missing its best two players for the same reason.
A hostile environment in the past has only served to motivate the South Africans further. They are coming into this series without JP Duminy and Hashim Amla, certainties in their squad for the ICC World Cup 2019.
South Africa is still a very formidable side that will expect nothing but victory on this tour. We believe that the South African batting lineup is stronger than the Australian one at the moment.
In Quinton de Kock they have one of the best ODI batsmen in the world over the last three years or so. De Kock has a penchant for scoring hundreds if he starts the series well. He likes the ball coming on to the bat but can be fallible against the short ball.
The batsman that we are most excited to see play in Australia is Aiden Markram. He should open the batting with de Kock and could be the difference between the two sides. He is a brilliant batsman that is just adjusting to a rough patch of form after a brilliant start to international cricket.
He is the player we are backing to score the most runs for South Africa. Faf du Plessis and David Miller should be 3 and 4 for South Africa followed by Farhaan Behardien at 5. Heinrich Klaasen may play as a specialist batsman at number 6 with Chris Morris slotting in at number 7.
That leaves picking four bowlers. Imran Tahir is a certainty in the side as are Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi. Dale Steyn is the squad and he could be the third fast bowler although there are plenty of other options as well.
Andile Phehlukwayo has played a lot of ODI cricket for South Africa but we don’t really see him in the side while Dwayne Pretorius may have to wait for his chance as well. Tabraiz Shamsi can expect a run in the side at some point of time as well.
Overall, South Africa has a very strong bowling lineup. The key bowlers for them will be Rabada and Ngidi. Both youngsters have taken the mantle of leading the attack in the absence of Dale Steyn over the last year or so.
Imran Tahir is very good in the limited overs format and will want to ensure he leaves no room to be replaced by Shamsi down the line as well.
Adapting to the Australian surfaces should not be a very big thing for the South Africans that play on similar surfaces back home. Six of their players have never played in Australia before but that should not be a factor in our opinion.
Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, Reeza Hendricks, Faf du Plessis, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, DW Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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The first match of the series will be played at Perth in the new Perth Stadium. The surface at the Perth Stadium is relatively quick with a good amount of bounce. The batsmen will like the ball coming on to the bat while the bowlers will get reward for bending their back.
Both sides have some very good fast bowlers that will want to capitalize on any help that the surface offers. A warm and sunny day has been forecast for match day so we should have no trouble getting a full match in.
Australia is a completely different side in home conditions and should not be underestimated. Its b batting may have struggled in UAE but should do much better here. Both sides have an excellent bowling attack and the one that bats batter will end up winning. We have a feeling South Africa is going to inflict some more misery on Australia in the opening game.
Back South Africa to win.
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