back icon


In the land of Nawabs, Australia and South Africa look for one-upmanship

Last updated on 11 Oct 2023 | 12:37 PM
Google News IconFollow Us
In the land of Nawabs, Australia and South Africa look for one-upmanship

Both sides recently played an ODI series. While South Africa bagged it 3-2, the matches hardly had any resemblance of parity

In World Cups, Australia and South Africa don’t really play a lot of boring matches against each other. Be it the drama of the 1999 World Cup semi-final or that fabled “you dropped the cup, mate” line by Steve Waugh in the same edition, there have been umpteen moments of glory and agony that defined the duel between the two sides. 

However, this extraordinary rivalry across formats hasn’t been celebrated as much as it should have. For say, an England-New Zealand match has garnered more attention lately, perhaps rightfully so. But when Australia and South Africa lock horns against each other at Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow on Thursday (October 12), with contrasting results in the last round, there will be a lot of eyeballs. 

Both sides recently played a five-match ODI series last month. While South Africa bagged it 3-2, the matches hardly had any resemblance of parity, with four out of five games being decided by a margin over 100 runs. Many knocks were freakish; many were just outrightly rubbish, but the series confirmed that both sides have the astounding ability to turn up on their days and force the opposition to pay for their fatal errors. 

In Lucknow, in the land of Nawabs and Kebabs, they will be testing their waters. With barely nine games on in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, we have a fair idea of where teams stand and how their fate could potentially play out, but what is the fun of making predictions if all of them come true?

Things to watch out for 

Could Carey hit the stripe?

Alex Carey hasn’t been at his best for a while now. An average of 20.55 in 2023 is just as bad that can happen, further compounded by Australia’s middle-over woes. Thus, it is imperative that one of their top three batters - David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, and Steve Smith - bats long enough to bail them out in every single game.

The focus thus shifts more to Carey. In the last 22 games, the Aussie keeper-batter has only a half-century to his name, and every time he faced a spinner, it seemed like a battle of normalcy versus ambiguity. Who has won that battle is not a secret to be told. 

In Lucknow, Australia can’t have their premium batter in death overs to continue the way he has in the last couple of years. He has to come good at some point, and if Carey is looking for inspiration, he should look no further than his 99 in Centurion last month - his only half-century in the period.

South Africa’s batting in near-perfect shape

In Delhi, South Africa and Sri Lanka amassed 754 runs in total - a World Cup record. Three batters - Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen, and Aiden Markram - got to their respective centuries to announce their arrival. In all likelihood, the typically sluggish Lucknow deck wouldn’t see such an outburst, but the last match was a perfect prelude to what Australia can expect on Thursday.

Their bowling was top-notch in the powerplay, with Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc putting up one of the most threatening exhibitions of pace bowling lately. Sure, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli flipped the script upside down later, but perhaps a bigger indictment of Aussie frailties lies in the fact that their star spinner Adam Zampa hasn’t been at his very best, giving away 35.3 runs per dismissal at an economy of 6.3 in 2023.

He is an ace for Australia, especially in conditions like Lucknow. It must be remembered in the context that Zampa has taken the most wickets by a spinner in matches when Australia ended up on the winning side and no player has taken more wickets for them post 2019 CWC. What do we deduce from it?

Ground Details

Even though Lucknow has traditionally been a spin-friendly venue, there have been instances of pacers coming into play earlier in the innings. Both pacers and spinners have taken an equal number of wickets at this venue, but spinners (4.8) have a slightly better economy than pacers (5.0). 

Lucknow has hosted four ODIs till date, with batting first and batting second teams winning a couple of them each. However, the decision to bowl seems to be a long thread of hopes for all captains, with each deciding on run-chases. 

Tactical Insights

- Glenn Maxwell’s performance against spinners has been good in recent years, with him maintaining an average of over 45 and having a strike rate of above 130 in ODIs post-CWC 2019. In Lucknow, he will be the major enforcer against Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, if he plays. 

- One of the interesting matchups to watch out for in the upcoming match is between Heinrich Klaasen and Adam Zampa. Klaasen has scored the most runs against Zampa among the bowlers he has faced in ODIs and has been dismissed three times by Zampa in ODIs, which is the second most for a bowler against him in ODIs. 

Teams News and Probable XIs

There’s no confirmation yet, but Marcus Stoinis may be fit for selection for the Lucknow clash. If he does come in, Cameron Green will make way for the Aussie all-rounder, who has been hot and cold in the ODIs in the last couple of years. 

Probable XIs: David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green/Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood.

Given the caravan has now moved to Lucknow, South Africa would be keen to add some spin impetus, and thus, Tabraiz Shamsi will be in a really good position to come in. That would prove costly for Gerald Coetzee.

Probable XI: Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma (c), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Marco Jansen, Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada.

Related Article