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ICC World T20 is just around the corner and most teams won't be too worried about their results in the other formats. The ODIs, however, can be quite nifty in getting the combination right for the shortest format of the game as well. After coming off an embarrasing defeat at the hands of the Aussies, the Proteas were itching to get off to a strong start in the One Day Internationals and they did. They posted a convincing 74-run win with their batting as well as bowling both doing a splendid job. While they looked an extremely well-balanced unit, it would be interesting to see if they can maintain their supremacy and avenge the 2-1 defeat that they faced in T20Is. Australia, on the other hand, would not be too worried, just yet. They are likely to bounce back stronger in the upcoming match and a cracker of a contest is certainly on the cards. The two teams are set to lock horns on 4th March at Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein.
Considering the consistency of the Proteas in their recent match, the questions raising the doubts about the South Africa's ability to repeat their first match's performance are all genuine. In the four series the Proteas played before this one, they won the first match three times, but failed to seal the series on all four occassions. Change in leadership seems to be working out for the Proteas and it would be interesting to see if it stays or if it is jsut beginner's luck for Quinton de Kock.
There were plenty of things that went right for the Saffers in the first match. David Miller found form after a huge gap and it would have relieved a lot of pressure not just from his shoulders, but also from the Proteas' middle-order. Going into the first match, South Africa were alleged of relying a little too much on Quinton de Kock at the top of the order and when South Africa found themselves at 48 for 3 with Quinton de Kock already back in the hut, South Africa's story appeared to be progressing in a familiar direction. However, Kyle Verryene, Heinrich Klaasen, and David Miller had other ideas as they got their side to a tall total.
Heinrich Klaasen was brilliant throughout his innings and slammed 123 off 114 deliveries. He paced his innings to perfection and combined with David Miller, he added 149 runs for the fifth wicket. David Miller contributed with a 64-run knock as South Africa finished with 291 runs on the board.
It was never going be an easy task to defend against the accomplished Australian lineup, but South African bowlers showed terrific application. So good were their bowlers that none of them conceded at an economy rate of more than six runs an over. Instead of going in with a combination of four seamers and a spinner, they went in with three seamers and a couple of spinners and this combination served them well. While their spinners strangled Australians in the middle overs, their seamers picked up wickets regularly with Lungi Ngidi being the pick of their bowlers. Ngidi returned with the impressive figures of 3 for 30 in his eight overs.
Janneman Malan, Quinton de Kock, JJT Smuts, Kyle Verreynne, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, K Maharaj, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi.
While Australia looked a powerhouse to deal with in the T20s, their vulnerabilities were highlighted in the longer format of the game. Without Glenn Maxwell and Peter Handsomb, their middle-order appeared to be wafer-thin as they slid from a fairly comfortable to a landslide defeat. Over the past few months, the Aussies have been found experimenting with their combination and while it is understandable with World T20 around the corner, the Aussies would not want to register any more losses on the board.
After a scintillating performance in the T20I series, their bowlers looked hungry as well as equipped in the first ODI. The trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Pat Cummins did well to get Aussies off to a flying start, but their other bowlers found it tough to get going. Adam Zampa was economical, but his failure to make any in-roads in the middle-overs allowed South Africa to get back in the game and post an imposing total.
Still, a total of 291 should never have been out of reach. Coming into the series, David Warner, Aaron Finch, and Steven Smith had been in terrific form and they were expected to stretch their form here as well. They both, however, perished in a quest to score quickly. Steven Smith and Marcus Labushcagne looked in fine form and added 84 runs for the third wicket. Australia began losing the plot after Labuschagne was dimissed after a personal contribution of 41.
Lauschagne wicket changed the course of the match as the likes of Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey, and D'Arcy Short failed to impress in the middle order. There was nothing of substance in the middle order as they slid from 174 for 4 to 217 all-out.
With Handscomb and Maxwell absent, the Aussies have been struggling in the middle-overs. Most of their batsmen in the current lineup are well equipped to play the shortest format of the game and their inexperience of playing in the fifty-over format has been telling so far. Also, the experiment to play D'Arcy Short as a finished doesn't seem to be paying off.
While fifty-over World Cup is a long way from here, Australia would like to get back to the winning ways sooner rather than later. The onus will be on their top-order batsmen to pull them through and with the kind of form their top-four are in, it shouldn't be too surprising if they do. Australia are still a pretty well-balanced side, at least on paper, and beating them is going to be a tough task for any team in World Cricket.
David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey, D'Arcy Short, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Pat Cummins.
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South Africa sparked a ray of hope amongst their fans with a scintillating win in the first match. While South Africa's win was unaticipated, their batting and bowling has now set a precedent. The Proteas would now like to produce a similar performance in the second match as well and a lot will depend on their batting unit, which proved to be rather fragile in the T20I series that got concluded just a while ago. While the two sides appear to be neck and neck on paper, South Africa have the home advantage, which could be useful. Also, they will be high on confidence with a win in their previous match and beating them isn't going to be easy. The odds appear to be skewed in favor of Aussies and betting on South Africa's win could be rewarding. South Africa are a strong side and we expect them to post a similar performance on Wednesday as well. Betting on their win would be the way to go in this all-important encounter.
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