Australia has never suffered a whitewash in a five-match bilateral One-Day International series, and trailing South Africa 3-0 in the ongoing series, Steven Smith and Co. will be desperate to not let this be the first such occasion.
Australia’s biggest defeat in ODIs was its 4-0 away loss to England in 2012, and the relatively inexperienced side touring South Africa this time must buck up ahead of the fourth ODI, to be played in Port Elizabeth on Sunday (October 9) to gain some momentum ahead of the Test series that will follow – in Australia – after the fifth match of this series.
Newcomers Joe Mennie, Chris Tremain and Daniel Worrall were drafted into the side ahead of the series but so far, none of them have found much success. John Hastings has been the most successful bowler, having picked up five wickets in three matches. But he, too, has bowled at an economy of 6.96, which reflects how the South African batsmen have managed to dominate Australia’s bowling attack.
So far, all three matches have been played on batting-friendly tracks, with the third ODI in Durban witnessing as many as 743 runs being scored over two innings. Australia put up a mammoth 371 for 6 in 50 overs, which South Africa chased down in 49.2 overs with four wickets in hand.
David Warner and Smith have been among the runs, with the likes of George Bailey, Travis Head and Aaron Finch chipping in with occasional good knocks. But, in comparison, South Africa’s Quinton de Kock, who has racked up 270 runs at an average of 90.00 and a sensational strike rate of 145.6, has been the leader of the pack comprising Faf du Plessis, the captain, Rilee Rossouw, David Miller and JP Duminy – all of who have played some top knocks through the series at excellent strike rates.
Like Australia, South Africa has struggled with its bowling, but Andile Phehlukwayo, the right-arm pacer playing in his first international series, Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell, who will miss the next two games because of an injury, have still managed to bag wickets regularly. Imran Tahir has, meanwhile, been miserly, with an economy of 4.85 in the series.
Sunday is expected to be a pleasant day in Port Elizabeth, with temperatures ranging from 12-18°C during the day and, most probably, the fans at the venue will again witness another run fest.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, David Miller, Aaron Phangiso, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir.
Australia: Steven Smith (capt), George Bailey, Scott Boland, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Joe Mennie, Chris Tremain, Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner, Daniel Worrall, Adam Zampa.