South Africa v Australia – First T20I – Kingsmead, Durban
Kingsmead, Durban, hosts the first of three T20I matches between South Africa and Australia. Both sides have selected their squads for the World T20 so this will be a final opportunity for players on the fringe to try and force their way into the final respective starting XI’s.
The largest city in Kwa-Zulu Natal is famed for its hot, sticky conditions and Friday night should be no different. Temperatures of over 30c and 80% humidity are forecast, giving the sides a taster of what’s to come on the Indian sub-continent over the coming weeks.
Kingsmead has hosted twelve completed T20I’s including two World Cup classics back in 2007. First there was a dramatic tied match between India and Pakistan, then later in the same tournament Stuart Broad was infamously hit for six maximums in one over by Yuvraj Singh!
Here’s a list of the last ten first innings scores in Kingsmead T20I’s (most recent first) –
151, 153, 86, 188, 153, 218, 153, 164, 141, 171 – Average of 157
South Africa have batted first in seven of fourteen T20I’s played since the end of the last World Cup in early 2014 (most recent first) –
148, 169, 165, 231, 195, 101, 145 – Average of 165
Australia have competed in eight T20I’s since the end of the last World Cup and batted first in two of those. Even including matches played in that World Cup, they’ve still only batted first in three of the last twelve T20I’s played (most recent first) –
197, 144, 178 – Average of 173
South Africa appear to be hitting top form just as the World Cup approaches. A tiring England side couldn’t hang on to a two-nil lead in the ODI’s, before Faf du Plessis oversaw two T20 victories. South Africa have won their last five matches in all forms. Key to that up-turn in form has been down to AB de Villiers finding something close to his best. First there was his unbeaten century in the deciding ODI, before his blistering twenty-nine ball 71 in the Johannesburg T20. Opening partner Hashim Amla also found form in the same match, as the pair plundered 125 runs in just 8.1 overs. Imran Tahir’s returns of 4/21 and 1/25 in the England T20’s fit alongside a career record of 32 wickets in twenty matches, suggesting the charismatic leggie is in fine fettle. The seamers also played their part in the England series win as Kyle Abbott, Kasigo Rabada and Chris Morris shared ten wickets.
Whereas the hosts look settled, Australia appear to be anything but. Opening batsman Aaron Finch has been dumped as skipper as Steve Smith takes control in all three formats. The tourists have lost their last four T20I’s as the selectors have chopped and changed both starting XI’s (19 players were used during the three-nil home defeat to India) and captains (Shane Watson led the side in their latest defeat) All this points to clouded thinking, a polar opposite to Australia’s Test match successes. Watson made a seventy-one ball 124 opening the batting in the above match, but even that could confuse things as would you really want to separate Dave Warner (T20I average 28.7) and Finch (T20I average 41.6)? The majority of the BBL T20 specialists have been left out after the India trial and error defeats, as Smith leads a squad that contains players previously associated with Tests. For example Wade and Bancroft have been dumped for uncapped Test wicketkeeper Pete Nevill. The bowling attack looks less potent without Mitchell’s Johnson (retired) and Starc (injured) as Josh Hazlewood comes into the squad having played just four T20I’s. Spinners Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa remarkably are still uncapped at T20I level.
The importance to South Africa of returning strike bowler Dale Steyn shouldn’t be underestimated. After nearly two months on the sidelines, Steyn returned to Western Province Cricket Club last week and registered match figures of 5-12. The skiddy quick might be entering the twilight stages of his international career, but 55 wickets in 38 matches at an average of 15.9 demands respect. Perhaps more impressive is an economy rate of just 6.4 runs per over off his bowling.
Usman Khawaja may have only played one T20I for Australia but he comes into reckoning as a star turn given his outrageous recent form. In his last eight Test innings he’s scored 713 runs at an average of 101.8 making four hundreds in the process. In this year’s BBL he scored two unbeaten hundreds for the Sydney Thunder, scoring 345 runs in four innings at a ridiculous average of 172.5! A strike rate of 163 runs per hundred balls should leave you in no doubt as to his credentials as a batsman in the games shortest form.
If South Africa bats first I recommend taking any OVER RUNS bet around the 162-165 mark.
If Australia bats first I recommend taking any OVER RUNS bet around the 155-158 mark.