Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Start time 1300 local (1700GMT)
Australia performed to expectations in their opening match with a crushing six-wicket win over West Indies; South Africa most certainly did not, as they were bundled out for 188 in their four-wicket loss to the hosts. The deflating nature of the loss to West Indies can only compound the pressure South Africa are feeling as they try to right the wrongs of their poorest domestic summer in recent memory, and in Steven Smith’s team they are not likely to be gifted many opportunities to regain their equilibrium. AB de Villiers’ men are going to have to lift their game substantially.
It is doubtlessly true that the Australians learned a lot from being able to watch the opening match rather than participate in it. They bowled first as West Indies did in the first match, and found in the afternoon air a little early assistance for the pacers before the spin bowlers ripped through the hosts. Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa proved a potent slow-bowling duo with a little help from Glenn Maxwell, and a few of the shots played by West Indies’ batsmen were redolent of nothing so much as those offered by South Africa when Sunil Narine spun a similar web.
While this is undoubtedly a South African side in decline, they still possess enough players of class to challenge Australia. One of these men may be Morne Morkel, curiously omitted from game one, but now fresh for the task of cutting through the Australian top order – a strength that can be undermined by exposing the less consistent operators batting beneath them. Similarly, de Villiers and Hashim Amla are players of a standard capable of taking the fight to Lyon and Zampa, even if the pitch will be in the bowlers’ favour.
(last five completed games, most recent first)
South Africa LWWWL
In the spotlight
Australia’s top four is very strong, but on recent evidence Glenn Maxwell is battling to justify his position at No. 5, particularly when he is followed by a similarly jumpy Mitchell Marsh and the bowlers. A duck against West Indies will not help Maxwell’s confidence, and he needs to demonstrate for the captain Smith, the interim coach Justin Langer and the selector on duty Trevor Hohns that he is capable of multi-dimensional innings, rather than simply indulging in explosive but brief stays at the crease. On turning pitches he can expect to be needed at a critical moment sooner or later.
Having struck 92 in South Africa’s warm-up match, Hashim Amla was purring along nicely enough against West Indies before misreading Narine and providing the start of a batting trough that cost South Africa the match. Amla’s touch and concentration seem ideally suited to the slow and challenging Guyana surface; de Villiers and coach Russell Domingo will be hopeful of something more substantial against Australia.
A strong display by the bowlers should mean an unchanged XI for Australia, though George Bailey is waiting in the wings should the selectors choose to bolster their batting in testing conditions.
Australia (probable): 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Steven Smith (capt), 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Adam Zampa, 10 Josh Hazlewood, 11 Nathan Lyon
Morkel and Wayne Parnell are pressing for recalls after South Africa’s opening defeat, while Rilee Rossouw is the man set to make way whenever Faf du Plessis recovers from a finger injury.
South Africa (probable): 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Rilee Rossouw, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Farhaan Behardien, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Morne Morkel/Kyle Abbott, 10 Aaron Phangiso, 11 Imran Tahir
Pitch and conditions
The same Providence Stadium pitch as used for Sunday’s match between Australia and West Indies should only be slower and lower this time around. Forecast weather is clear and humid.
Stats and trivia
- Australia and South Africa have met twice in ODIs in the Caribbean before, both matches won by Ricky Ponting’s side on their way to victory at the 2007 World Cup.
- South Africa, however, were victorious the last time the two sides met in a tri-series, winning the final of a tournament that also featured Zimbabwe, in Harare in 2014.
“As a bowling unit I think we pride ourselves on limiting extras. I think we let ourselves down [giving up 14], there was a bit of rust floating around.”
Nathan Lyon thinks Australia’s bowling attack can improve on their opening effort
“Our assessment [of the pitch] was good. Unfortunately the execution wasn’t spot on in the last 10 overs with the bat in hand. We knew that it would be a turning track, very slow. That’s why we played the extra spinner.”
AB de Villiers wants South Africa’s planning to be matched by execution in game two
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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