Australia absolutely battered South Africa to begin their limited overs tour of the nation on Friday, and on Sunday they will have the first chance of two attempts to win the T20 series ahead of the ODIs that follow.
The Proteas may well be shell-shocked after that opening match and will know they need to be a whole lot better if they are to take the series to a decider. Whether they are good enough to do that remains to be seen.
After giving England such a close run in their series now so long ago, South Africa will have been disappointed to offer no such contest to Australia in the opening match on Friday. They won’t have underestimated their opponents but if they needed a reminder of the levels they need to be at to come out on top over the next couple of weeks, they were given the biggest one they could have had in that first game.
South Africa looked limp with the ball and they were pathetic with the bat and there aren’t many worse combinations than that in any sport, least of all this one. Such was the heavy nature of their beating in that opening game that you wonder if it is possible to bridge that gap in one hit. One thing is for sure if they are going to have any chance here they have to bat a whole lot better. The issue is they might not get good batting conditions again.
The Australians headed to South Africa in wonderful form and they maintained that in that opening game. They are a side who will host a World T20 later in the year and there is a clear intent to go into that tournament as the favourites to win it, and the way they are playing there is no danger of that not being the case. I questioned whether they could maintain their form ahead of that first T20 but those concerns were emphatically answered.
Maintaining their form is what they need to do here too. If they have a repeat of their performance in that opening match they are going to win this game. The positive for them is that actually there is improvements to be made. No batsman passed 50 despite putting up a solid total and their seamers were not among the wickets in the main either. Heaven help the other sides in the world if this lot do get it right.
You would think South Africa are going to be forced into changes for this match. It might have come too soon for Temba Bavuma to return but their batting needs extending so Dwaine Pretorius could be an option for someone.
I’m sure Australia will want to give game time to their whole squad before the ODIs but they are likely to want to get the series done before that happens, so we may well see an unchanged side after such a strong performance.
South Africa were well beaten in that opening match and that has to be a concern. Another problem for South Africa is that David Warner only made four in that first match and he doesn’t tend to fail too often against this opposition. Another issue the Proteas have is that spin took seven wickets for Australia in Johannesburg and now we go to the ground most renowned for spin in South Africa, so it is hard to pick the home side with any confidence.
If there was a guarantee that Temba Bavuma and Heinrich Klaasen would be back then maybe that would be different but there isn’t, so given that I think there could be even more to come from Australia I am going to back them to win and so do by another fair margin. The handicap for this match is 3.5 wickets or 10.5 runs. I expect Australia to have the batting to chase a score down no worse than six down and South Africa’s tail is that long that any early wickets should see them more than 10 runs short in a run chase should they go down as I expect. That’s the bet for me.
Back Australia (-3.5 wickets/10.5 runs) to beat South Africa for a 4/10 stake at 1.73 with Bet365