Though ODI cricket is insignificant this calendar year, it does provide a platform for the teams to examine their strengths and prepare for the upcoming T20 World Cup, slated to be held later this year in Australia.
In the last T20 international (T20I) series, South Africa had to face a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Australia highlighting the similar loopholes possessing the Proteas in ODIs recently as well.
Since 2016, both the teams have clashed 13 times and South Africa have given Australia a real run for their money by crushing them in 10 contests. Only twice they have lost to the visitors and one game ended with a no-result. Six of the 10 wins were home games for the Proteas.
In the first ODI, South Africa got off to the worst possible start after Janneman Malan was trapped leg before first ball, and then they were three wickets down in the powerplay. However, they fought back heroically, thanks to Heinrich Klaasen, who slammed a terrific unbeaten century and their bowlers, who played their part in the second innings.
South Africa have a solid opener in Quinton de Kock, but they are struggling to find another opener in white-ball cricket, who could accompany the skipper in both formats.
Since January 2019, Reeza Hendrick’s form in ODIs as an opener is not up to the mark as he averages just 26.3. He also got a chance in one T20I this year but scored just 14 runs
South Africa tried Temba Bavuma as an opener for T20Is against England, and the right-handed batsman played stupendously in two matches scoring 74 runs, but unfortunately, he got injured. Bavuma’s injury left the Proteas in the lurch and they faced a real challenge in finding his replacement.
For two T20Is against Australia, Rassie van der Dussen opened the innings but could not fire.
Eyeing the ICC T20 World Cup, South Africa’s search for an opener is still on as they included a new player- Malan for the ongoing ODI series against Australia. Malan, however, failed to score on his debut.
The middle-order is not a big concern for the Proteas. After getting into deep trouble at 48/3 in the last match, Heinrich’s 123-run knock helped the Proteas score 297. David Miller, who didn’t have a great T20I series against the same opponents, accompanied Klaasen and notched up 64 runs. Overall, it was the middle order, who put all their efforts to help the hosts register a comprehensive victory against the tourists.
On the contrary, Australia’s top order has been putting on a consistent show but when it comes to the middle order, they have failed to produce worthy results not only in ODIs but in T20Is as well.
Australia will have to work on their middle order. Especially they need to ponder on Mitchell Marsh, who made a duck in the last match and was not in good form in the T20I series too.
The best thing for the visitors is their young Test sensation Marnus Labuschagne, who did well in the ODIs averaging 47 in three innings. Labuschagne could help Australia climb the averages table of the middle-order in ODIs.
In the last match, Alex Carey failed to score in double-digits. However, he has averaged 44 in ODIs since 2019. After Carey, Australia don’t have any other batsmen to shoulder the run-scoring responsibility.
Pacers from both the teams are doing their job well. Lungi Ngidi is in fierce form, while Anrich Nortje is able to trouble the batsmen in the powerplay. Australia’s pace duo Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are also upsetting the batsmen.
Australia’s spin attack have disappointed their side. Adam Zampa, who put on a magnificent show in the T20Is, could not grab a wicket. Zampa will have to pick wickets in the middle over to help his side restrict the opponents in the next game.
Since 2019, in the last 19 ODI innings, Zampa has taken a wicket every 38.9 deliveries at an economy rate of 5.6. Among spinners, apart from Zampa, no other bowler from Australia has a strike-rate of less than 50 since the start of 2019.
Quinton de Kock (C & WK), Janneman Malan, Temba Bavuma, David Miller, Heinrich Klassen, Kyle Verreynne, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi
Aaron Finch (C), David Warner, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Marsh, D’Arcy Short, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood