South Africa vs Australia, 2nd T20I, Preview - Wounded hosts look to level series after a disastrous opening in Johannesburg

South Africa vs Australia, 2nd T20I, Preview – Wounded hosts look to level series after a disastrous opening in Johannesburg

Former South African captain Faf Du Plessis was the top-scorer for the hosts in their heavy defeat at the Wanderers with 24.

South Africa
South Africa. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Stepping into the bullring on Friday was South Africa and Australia, amongst which the focus was primarily on the latter due to obvious reasons. And it was Australia, crowned as the king of the ring as they trounced the South Africans by a record margin of 107 runs, skittling them for their lowest T20I score ever.

It felt like even if Proteas’ Test team was on the decline, their white-ball setup remained stable. The administrative shake-up to install the likes of Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis, Charl Langeveldt, and Graeme Smith showed the way, even if at best they managed to draw the ODI series while losing the T20Is closely against England.

However, at the Wanderers against their old foes, South Africa succumbed to their worst batting performance in T20s. And it couldn’t have come at a more undesirable time as the hosts prepare for a final World Cup tilt. As captain Quinton de Kock mentioned, hard to understand what happened out in the park, these kinds of defeats precipitate due to a collective failure in all three facets.

It was precisely that. Even after picking up the wicket of David Warner in the very second ball of the innings, the likes of Dale Steyn, Lungi Ngidi, and Kagiso Rabada gifted the Australians plenty of freebies. The loss of Warner hardly mattered as Australia raced to 70 in the powerplay. Throw in 14 extras, of which 12 wides and fielding lapses adding to Australia’s 196, De Kock’s decision to field first felt like a blunder even if Aaron Finch wanted to do the same.

And how about the capitulation with the bat to get bundled out for 89? In retrospect, both the sides lost their star opener in the first over itself. But Australia thrived in the department of keeping the pressure consistently on the higher side with the ball. And an unknown prospect in Ashton Agar was most responsible for turning the screws with his five-wicket haul. His hattrick and Australia’s second in T20Is left the home side reeling at 44-7 which flagged an inevitable defeat. After a loss as crushing as this, will South Africa go the AB de Villiers-way for the marquee event?

Australia’s performances on their home turf in T20s before this series may not have been a true testament of their dominance. However, after drubbing the Proteas, Aussies look a scarier outfit than ever and undoubtedly the front runner to lift the trophy later this year. The World T20 is still a good few months away and Australia have opportunities aplenty before it to assert their authority as the newly-crowned number one side in the shortest version.

They would still need Glenn Maxwell in their ranks, who will miss the entire tour due to an elbow injury. Even though the visitors finished well enough in Johannesburg and plundered a total well out of South Africa’s reach, the inexperience in the middle-order was glaring. And lastly, Steve Smith’s enhancement of reputation as an all-format batsman has been starting to take shape ever since his return from banishment.

Playing combination

South Africa:

South Africa missed the duo of Temba Bavuma and Heinrich Klassen terribly at the top and middle-order respectively. And there exists no confirmation over their participation in the series yet. Perhaps, the hosts could move Faf Du Plessis to the top, having opened the innings in the IPL too. They may shuffle batting positions but might not carry out any changes.

Probable XI: Quinton de Kock (C & WK), Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, JJ Smuts, David Miller, Pite van Biljon/Temba Bavuma, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi

Australia:

Australia would most likely proceed to Port Elizabeth with the combination that steamrolled the hosts in Johannesburg. The newly-ranked number one T20 team will look to wrap up the series at the St. George’s Park.

Probable XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch (C), Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa

Focus will be on:

Faf Du Plessis(South Africa)

Former South African captain Faf Du Plessis was the top-scorer for the hosts in their heavy defeat at the Wanderers with 24. Having had the responsibility of captaincy off his shoulders, one sensed that the veteran felt little pressure. Du Plessis’ promotion to the opening position with De Kock in the absence of Bavuma could be a masterstroke. In the IPL, the veteran averages 34.92 at a strike rate of 128.92 while batting at the top of the order.

Mitchell Marsh(Australia)

The Australian selectors have showered countless chances on all-rounder Mitchell Marsh. Yet, the Western Australian hasn’t been able to cash on it. With Glenn Maxwell missing from the line-up, Marsh can fancy himself to assume the role of a power-hitter in the middle and he did show glimpses of it in the opening game. The 28-year old’s bowling ability also adds depth to Australia’s bowling stocks and could be the fast bowling all-rounder that they need.

Head to Head:

Played – 19 | Won by South Africa – 7 | Won by Australia – 12

Stat Attack:

80 – Aaron Finch needs 80 runs to reach 2000 runs in T20 internationals. He would be the second Australian to achieve the feat after David Warner.

3- Pat Cummins needs three wickets to go past James Faulkner’s 36 wickets in T20 internationals.

8 – Quinton de Kock needs 8 runs to breach past Hashim Amla’s tally of 1158 runs. By doing so, he would go up to number five in top run-getters in T20s for South Africa.

3 – Andile Phehlukwayo needs three wickets to go past Johan Botha’s tally pf 37 wickets for the Proteas in T20s.

Broadcast details:

TV – Sony Six, Sony Six HD

Live Streaming – Sony Liv

Match timings – 6:00 pm IST, 14:30 pm local