On the day that the women’s World T20 begins, South Africa and Australia see their men begin their own series in the format on Friday, when they meet in Johannesburg in the first of three T20 games they will play over the next week.
South Africa go into the series off the back of the back of a defeat to England last week while Australia will be out to continue their fine form in the international arena since the turn of the decade.
We saw the good and the bad of South Africa in their three matches against England last week, so we know what they will need to work on ahead of the World T20 later in the year. They were very impressive with the bat but less so with the ball, so the latter will need a massive improvement if they are going to go to Australia and bring the title back with them. They will be quick to point out they were missing players against England though.
You would think down in Australia that big scoring isn’t always going to be the order of the day, but if they can get some batsmen going down there in good form then it will take some of the pressure off their bowlers. The other thing they could do with is a run of wins, just to prove to everyone that Quinton de Kock has got what it takes to lead a successful side, given his relative inexperience in the job.
The biggest task in hand for Australia could well be maintaining the form they are in. The worst thing a side who are hosting a tournament can do is peak at the wrong time, and that is exactly what they have done at the minute. That isn’t to say that they can’t maintain that until the time their home tournament comes around, but it is a long time to stay in form. You would imagine they will fade away and then come good again.
The good thing Australia have in their favour is they have some seriously aggressive batsmen and some really top class bowlers, and they are stocked nicely in both departments, so if there is a drop off in form, it shouldn’t take much for them to find players who are up to the task. Clearly there has been a focus to go strong in this format because every match they have played in it in the last few months they have absolutely dominated.
Faf du Plessis and Kagiso Rabada were given the England series off but both come back in here. Temba Bavuma will miss this first match through injury so du Plessis will replace him. Rabada is expected to come in for Beuran Hendricks.
Australia were hoping to have Glenn Maxwell in their ranks for this match but he misses the tour through injury, which opens up a bit of a hole in their middle order. D’Arcy Short could be one man asked to fill it.
These two have had high scoring cricket matches on this Wanderers ground in the past and I think this one is going to be similar with the big hits coming regularly throughout the contest. We’ve just seen England absolutely tear this South Africa attack apart and Australia have the power to do the same thing to it. I expect South Africa to contribute to the big hitting as well though so this should be a really entertaining watch.
The sixes line for this tussle is 15.5 which is probably fair but I’m not convinced it is high enough given the short boundaries here and the way the ball flies further in the Highveld, as we see so often. There are so many big hitters on show here and I don’t expect the wicket to offer the bowlers much in the way of help. Batsmen should be pinning their ears back and we should be counting plenty of sixes accordingly.
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