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Beleaguered Australia Hope For Change in Fortune Against South Africa

Reuters |November 4, 2018, 8:39 AM IST
Beleaguered Australia Hope For Change in Fortune Against South Africa

An Australia team still feeling reverberations from the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal will face their demons against South Africa in a three-match One-Day International series starting in Perth on Sunday (November 4).

The teams meet for their first international clash since the ill-tempered Test series wrapped up in Johannesburg in April with Australia's reputation in tatters and three of their players sent home in disgrace. While seven months have passed, Australian cricket has struggled to move on from the Newlands nightmare, and the release of a culture review this week re-opened the wounds.

As the board scrambles to rebuild its credibility, Aaron Finch's Australia will hope to restore some faith in the national team with wins against the Proteas in this series. The on-field behaviour of both teams will be closely scrutinised given the overt hostility that blighted the Test series, which South Africa won comfortably 3-1.

Along with former captain Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft, David Warner remains banned for his part in the ball-tampering scandal, which saw Bancroft caught on camera trying to hide a piece of sandpaper in his trousers while fielding. While there will be no chance of another flare-up between Warner and wicketkeeper De Kock, Proteas captain Faf Du Plessis expects a frosty reception from Australian crowds.

Australia enter the series with a dismal recent record, having won only two of their last 18 completed ODIs, a run that includes a 5-0 whitewash away to England. Only seven months out from a World Cup being hosted in England and Wales, the world champions have slumped to sixth in the rankings.

Leaving aside the distractions of the Longstaff review, Australia suffered an injury scare on Friday, with Finch leaving the field with a bruised finger after being rapped on the glove by a Mitchell Starc delivery during training. However, he was later cleared to play after a scan.

The onus will be on the likes of Finch, Chris Lynn, D’Arcy Short, Glenn Maxwell and Travis Head to do the scoring and then let their bowlers take over.

Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins have recovered from injury to join Starc in Australia's strongest attack, while Dale Steyn will lead Kagiso Rabada and rising talent Lungi Ngidi in a formidable fast bowling unit for the Proteas. While the bowling will mostly be dominated by pacers, both Australia and South Africa have good spinners as well. The likes of Adam Zampa, Ashton Agar, Imran Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi are very much capable of trumping the best.

Fourth-ranked South Africa may be in better relative health but are also rebuilding and are without two of their most experienced players in injured batsman Hashim Amla and all-rounder JP Duminy. They will also miss AB de Villiers, who retired from international cricket in May, in the batting department.

Du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram and David Miller will have to bring their A-game against Australia's strong bowling unit, while Heinrich Klaasen, Reeza Hendricks and Farhaan Behardien will look to push their case for the 2019 World Cup.

The visiting side are coming into the series on the back of wins by 3-2 in Sri Lanka and 3-0 against Zimbabwe at home. However, they struggled against India earlier this year when lost 1-5 to Virat Kohli's men in their own backyard.

It's going to be bright and sunny in Perth but you can expect some thunderbolts from the likes of Starc, Cummins, Rabada, Ngidi and Steyn.


Australia: Aaron Finch (capt), 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 (capt), 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.

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2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
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3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
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1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
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