Venue: Boland Park, Paarl
Date: Saturday, February 29, 2020
The T20I series between the two sides went to Australia as the tourists picked up a couple of massive victories over their hosts. The form in ODIs between South Africa and Australia in recent years, however, has sided towards South Africa. The host nation has won seven of eight games against the Aussies over the last two ODI series, including a massive 5-0 whitewashing of Australia at home in 2016.
The problem for South Africa is that this Australian team is a different beast to the ones they have beaten in the recent past. Since David Warner and Steve Smith have been back in the frame they have been on an upward march, including a big win over India on the subcontinent in March 2019.
This is a South Africa team that is in many ways young and experimental. There is no room in the 15-man squad for Faf du Plessis, a player who hasn’t played a game in the ODI format since July 2019. Rassie van der Dussen is also absent from the squad, but there are callups for Janneman Malan and Kyle Verreyeene who are yet to take place in an ODI.
There is also a recall into the format for a Test regular in Keshav Maharaj, a player who last played in an ODI for his country in 2018. It will be interesting to see how much he gets to play across the three ODI series. His position as an extra spin option will certainly give the selectors of the matchday squad something to think about when assessing the state of the wickets before these games are played.
Warner and Smith are just two of the big bats in an Australian order that looks dangerous every time it is at the crease. When you add the presence of Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne it is easy to see why the Australians are prone to putting up big scores. Even if two of the four are out of form and go early, there are still a couple of players ready to pick up the slack.
Their bowling is equally dangerous and it is lead by the pace and swerve of Mitchell Starc. This is a unit that, while impressive, can occasionally find itself in a letdown spot. That is why Mitchell Marsh is such an important piece of the ODI side as he is able to solidify the middle order and can also pick up the ball if the other options aren’t working.
South Africa’s recent record against Australia is an interesting one, but the Aussies should have more than enough to win as favorites here given how good their ODI form has been. Their price of 0.44 at BetXChange offers little value so look to other markets. We like David Warner to be Man of the Match at 7.00 and think Temba Bavuma is a good value at 4.00 to be the top South African batsman here.