After running roughshod over the West Indies on Sunday evening, Australia lock horns with familiar rivals South Africa in match three of the 2016 Tri-Nations Day/Night Series today in the final match played at the Providence National Stadium, Guyana.
Steven Smith’s men romped to a six wicket win over the hosts in a low-scoring affair, knocking them over for 116, completing their chase with 146 balls to spare in a dominant display of all-round cricket. South Africa who are ranked three in the world, were crippled by Sunil Narine who took a career best 6 for 27 in the first match to hand the Caribbean side a four wicket win.
Today’s encounter will be important for the South Africans who will want to register a win against the Aussies, more so their first of the tournament. So far, conditions in Guyana and the nature of the wicket provided great assitance for the slower bowlers in both matches.
Australia defeated the West Indies after off-spinner Nathan Lyon and leg-spinner Adam Zampa accounted for the Lions share of the wickets, six between them and could possibly play similar roles today, given that both men have settled in nicely from the last match.
South Africa too will be excited to see how leg-spinner Imran Tahir as adopted to the conditions after serving up googly after googly against the host last Friday, while Aaron Phangiso who picked up three wickets will also be rearing to add to his tally.
Both teams are equipped with a battery of top pacers, the real issue will be who Smith and AB de Villiers thinks can give them good opening spells and a tight finish during the death stages of the match.
Left-arm quick Mitchell Starc was brilliant against West Indies on Sunday picking up two wickets upon his return to intern international cricket after a successful foot surgery while wicket-taking options like James Faulkner, Nathan Coulter-Nile wait patiently in the wings for their turn.
Glenn Maxwell has not been in the best batting form as of late but his off-spin has been bringing wickets, so it is likely that he could be replaced by the more senior George Bailey if Smith opts for a more seasoned, in-form batting order against the Proteas.
South Africa will want the same from Kyle Abbott and Kagiso Rabada who went wicket-less in the first game and could possibly swap one or both for either Wayne Parnell or Morne Morkel. With a bit more room to tinker with their bowling options, South Africa will also want their all-rounders, especially the dangerous Chris Morris to fire in both departments.
Batting-wise, the test will be to get off to a good start and ensure their respective power-hitters have a good platform to build on. As for the plan, Smith during a recent interview said that he will be looking to his openers to set the tone and David Warner delivered the goods with his 15th One Day International (ODI) fifty to guide his team home Sunday.
de Villiers will want the same from his openers, Quinton de Kock and the big man Hashim Amla who were pinned down in the opening match by the West Indies bowlers. Rilee Rossouw scored his fifth score of fifty or more against the host when he top scored with 60 odd, thus keeping his spot for at least a few more games.
Today’s encounter will be the third time these two sides will meet in 50 Over cricket here in the Caribbean since the 2007 World Cup which the current World Cup champs Australia won. The match bowls off at 13:00hrs.
Australia squad: Steven Smith (capt), David Warner, George Bailey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade (wk), Adam Zampa.
South Africa squad: AB de Villiers (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Tabraiz Shamsi.