With both sides packing their lineup with some of the best bowlers in the world, the series between Australia and South Africa has so far been a low-scoring affair and the third and final One-Day International at Bellerive Oval in Hobart on Sunday is expected to be no different.
After a comprehensive loss in the opening game, Australia came strongly in the second in their defence of 231 to win by seven runs - arresting a streak of seven straight ODI losses, their longest in the 50-over format.
An under-par batting effort saw the hosts bundled out in 48.3 overs, but the bowlers led by Marcus Stoinis' 3/35 in 10 overs ensured Australia were in the game all along despite David Miller's half-century. Mitchell Starc & Josh Hazlewood were also effective and Australia will want more out of them come Sunday with the series tied 1-1.
"It will probably relax the guys a little bit, if anything," Hazlewood said of the victory. "It's a little bit of relief, I guess.
"It's a good step moving forward to get one on the board... (but) we know one win doesn't make a summer. It makes tomorrow (Sunday) a pretty important game for us to try and win the series."
Having said that the Australia batting still needs to click as a unit. Their form has been patchy since the series against England, Pakistan and now South Africa. The odd 40s and 50s have come but Aaron Finch will desperately hope for someone in his side to go make the big 100s. And who better than the captain himself to lead the way.
Finch so far has scores of 5 & 41 so far in the series. He looked solid in the second game but could not turn it into anything substantial and will be keen on doing that in the final outing. His opening partner Travis Head though has failed to get going in both ODIs and will want to give a good account of himself on Sunday.
Chris Lynn, who hasn't played much ODI cricket for Australia got going in the second game with a run-a-ball 44. He looked in his elements before falling to Kagiso Rabada and he knows a good showing in the last ODI will help him cement a place in the Australian 50-over side especially with the World Cup not too far away.
Another player who would be itching to go out and do well is Glenn Maxwell. He has good memories of the Bellerive Oval having smoked a 58-ball ton earlier this year in a Twenty20 International against England.
South Africa, despite the loss, will be upbeat going into the final ODI having not done much wrong in both games. The pacers in Dale Steyn, Rabada and Lungi Ngidi have been consistent while leg-spinners Imran Tahir has chipped in with economical spells in both matches. All-rounder Dwaine Pretorius, who played the second ODI in place of Andile Phehlukwayo took his chances with both hands picking up 3 wickets.
The batting though was disappointing in the second game when they failed to chase down an average score though Faf du Plessis will be confident of a good show in the final game.
"We don't want to take anything for granted, so we're going to travel to the next destination and start fresh again - looking to finish off the series there strongly," David Miller had said after South Africa's loss in the second ODI.
The conditions in Hobart are perfect for playing cricket with temperatures likely to hover around the 18-degree mark with no threat of rain.
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Alex Carey (wk), Josh Hazlewood, Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, D’Arcy Short, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn
Commentary ( innings)No Records
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First Published: November 11, 2018, 7:59 AM IST