At the start of the one-day series, South Africa were termed clear favourites to overcome the Australians without much trouble. This, despite the fact that the hosts were missing their regular skipper, and best batsman, AB de Villiers. But, there was a simple cricketing logic behind the preface. Australia were going into the series with a highly inexperienced attack. And the same has led to their downfall in the first two games. In that context, the 2-0 lead to South Africa seems least surprising. But, what remains to be seen is whether Australia can find a way out of it.
Although Australia batted first in the opening game, and chased in the second, the template of defeat was not much different. And, the cause, as detailed above has definitely been their bowling. In the first match, they could not give the Proteas a run defending a score close to 300. And, in the second, they conceded a mammoth 361, which was too much for the Aussies to chase. Chris Tremain and Joe Mennie, both made their debuts in the Johannesburg ODI, and had a tough initiation, conceding 78 and 82 runs respectively. John Hastings, Mitchell Marsh and Adam Zampa too are relatively novice at the one-day stage.
While bowling was always expected to be Australia’s Achilles Heel, their batting too has floundered under pressure. George Bailey got a fifty in the first match, but Australia should have ended up making more than the 294 runs which they eventually got. In the second match, Australia managed only 219, with fifties coming from David Warner and Travis Head. But, both of them fell immediately after reaching the landmark. Skipper Steven Smith has had a poor run of late, so he will be keen to make an impression. Aaron Finch and Marsh will also need to chip in better considering the lack of bowling options.
South Africa have had it all too easy with the bat, so much so that they decided to sit Hashim Amla out even though he was fit for the second match. Quinton de Kock made a sensational 178 in the first game as South Africa chased down a challenging score with ease. In the second match, their batting only went a few notches higher as they batted first. This time, stand-up skipper Faf du Plessis came up with a fluent century while JP Duminy blasted a whirlwind 82 from 58 balls. At the top, Rilee Rossouw has also made an impact with scores of 63 and 75 respectively.
South Africa’s bowlers haven’t had to work very hard thanks to their batsmen. Still, they made an impact in the Johannesburg match after being slightly below far in the first match. Wayne Parnell stood out with 3 for 40 while Kagiso Rabada picked up 2 for 31. The best part of South Africa’s bowling effort in the previous encounter what that it was a combined effort, with Dale Steyn, Andile Phehlukwayo, Imran Tahir and Duminy all chipping with wickets. South Africa would be keen to continue in the same vein.
--By A Cricket Analyst