South Africa will look to register a rare clean sweep when they take on a depleted Australia in the fifth and final ODI at Cape Town in Newlands on Wednesday. The Aussies would be hoping for exactly the opposite, and end the series on a somewhat positive note. It won’t be easy though for Australia have just not competed with the Proteas in the series. In three out of four matches, they have been thrashed mercilessly while in the only game where they competed David Miller played a blinder to pull the match completely out of Australia’s grasp.
Bowling has been the bane of Australia throughout the series. But, in the previous match it was the batting that let them down. They managed only 167 in the previous match at Port Elizabeth. Mitchell Marsh and Mathew Wade hit fifties but the rest struggled. So far in the series, only David Warner and Steven Smith have hit hundreds for Australia, and that too in the same match. But, their great work was undone by Miller’s brilliance. Opener Aaron Finch has got a couple of starts, but hasn’t carried on. Even among the better performers, Smith, Warner and George Bailey have not been consistent.
As for their bowling, there really isn’t much they can do about it. They can only hope that they can somehow come up with a better show in the final match to prevent further embarrassment. Chris Tremain picked up a couple of scalps in the previous match while Scott Boland kept things reasonably tight. John Hastings and Mitchell Marsh are among the two somewhat experienced players in the team, so they would be expected to raise their games for the final act. In the spin department, they do not have too many other options apart from Adam Zampa.
South Africa should be back to their full strength in their endeavour to clinch the series 5-0. This means both Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada should come back after being rested for the previous match. Steyn hasn’t really fired so he would be keen to make an impact. Rabada, on the other hand, has done better, but he too hasn’t been at his best. Kyle Abbott and Tabraiz Shamsi both were excellent in the previous match so it would be difficult for the think-tank to keep either of them out. In such a scenario, Dwaine Pretorius could be one of those to miss out.
The Proteas have been in brilliant form with the bat, with almost everyone in the top and middle order firing. They will be keen to continue with the same. Quinton de Kock has one big hundred in the series along with a couple of other impressive efforts. Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis are also in form while JP Duminy has been impressive as well. Rilee Rossouw got a chance at a top of the order when Amla was unfit, but has shone wherever he has batted. On current form, Proteas seem set to make a historic whitewash.
--By A Cricket Analyst