Two behemoths who have seen their aura diminish of late, Australia and South Africa will kick-start the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup 2021 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday in what promises to be an absolute crackerjack of a contest.
The higher ranked of the two sides, South Africa will enter Saturday’s clash as favorites, and they also have momentum on their side, having won both their warm-up matches leading into the tournament. Needless to mention, the Proteas are also on a remarkable 7-match winning streak streak in the shortest format, having staggeringly won 9 of their last 10 T20Is.
Australia, on the other hand, are a side short on form and confidence, but time and again the Kangaroos have shown that they have the tendency to up their game at the biggest stage. Aaron Finch’s men were battered by India in the second warm-up match, but they did, however, get the better of a very good New Zealand side in their first practice match. They will enter Saturday’s clash wanting to prove a point.
Played - 21 | Australia - 13 wins | South Africa - 8 wins
Last five matches
Australia - 3 wins | South Africa - 2 wins
The Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi will be the venue for the battle, and in the first round of the ongoing T20 World Cup, the ground oversaw really good cricketing wickets. There was plenty of assistance for seamers overall, the ball tended to grip on the wicket for the spinners deep into matches but equally, batters also got value for their shots. There were two scores on either side of hundred that were chased down rather comfortably, and there were also a couple of 165+ scores. The last match at the venue saw the team batting first winning, but, overall, three of the four matches were won by the team chasing. The two captains will have an interesting decision to make.
What will delight both Australia and South Africa, though, is just how much the Abu Dhabi wicket assisted the seamers in the first round. Nearly 70% of the wickets were taken by the quicks, and they also maintained a better economy than the slower bowlers. In the last match at the venue between Sri Lanka and Ireland, the Lankan seamers got an abundance of assistance under lights. There was also plenty of pace on the wicket.
Assuming the wicket behaves similarly, the likes of Starc, Cummins, Nortje and Rabada would be itching to have a bowl and torment batters.
In our suggested team, we’ve picked a good mix of world-class pacers and dynamic batters. But remember, while you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your own team from Cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre Based on algorithms, we have come up with one team.
Look no further than Glenn Maxwell. The Big Show took the UAE leg of the IPL by storm, and he also looked in fine touch in the warm-up match against India, where he struck a well-made 37. Maxwell could also come handy with the ball with his off-spin, thanks to the Proteas possessing a fair few lefties in their line-up.
Our Criclytics player projection predicts Maxwell to score 17-25 runs and take 0-1 wickets
Mitchell Starc loves peaking at World Cups, and across the two warm-up games, he showed signs of getting back to his best - both with the new ball and at the death. He’s had a good second half of 2021, starting with the ODIs against the Windies, so it goes without saying that the left-armer will be a player to watch out for, on Saturday.
Our Criclytics player projection predicts Starc to take 0-1 wickets.
Aiden Markram has had a sensational start to his T20I career, and he also looked in fine touch in the warm-up against Afghanistan, where he struck a well-compiled 48. Someone who knows the UAE conditions well, having spent a month with the Punjab Kings, Markram could very well prove to be a game-changer with the bat.
Our Criclytics player projection predicts Markram to score 16-24 runs.
Aaron Finch might not have had the greatest of years, at least to date, but like Starc, the Aussie skipper has the tendency to turn up the heat at the biggest stage. He averages 36.00 in T20 World Cups, so expect him to send a few shivers down South Africa’s spin in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Our Criclytics player projection predicts Finch to score 23-35 runs with the bat.
Warner vs Rabada is undoubtedly the single biggest player match-up to watch out for. Warner strikes at 150 against the right-armer, but Rabada has dismissed the Aussie opener thrice in T20s in the last five years. Both men are struggling for form, so the contest will be fascinating.
Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch ©, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa
South Africa: Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma ©, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi