Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Australia v South Africa: A T20I chapter in the storied rivalry?. Australia have won their only previous meeting against South Africa in T20 WCs
Australia have won their only previous meeting against South Africa in T20 WCs
Can you think of a memorable Australia v South Africa T20I match? A match that really defines their rivalry in the format. Yes, there have been a handful of close finishes among the 22 encounters between them. A couple that've snuck into the final over. But unlike in Tests or ODIs, where we're spoilt for choices, the two teams have overall failed to produce that epic superhit in T20 cricket. There's never also quite been a standout innings, or spell or even a really dramatic run-chase. And not even a controversy either, which is rather rare when these two teams get involved.
So, it's only understandable that their encounter in Abu Dhabi doesn't seem to carry the kind of hype you'd expect from the opening game of the Super 12s. Perhaps it's also got to do with the underwhelming billing that both teams seem to carry leading into the global event. Australia have been the team that many have unfairly written off while South Africa have been the team who unfairly not many have written about.
It doesn't help that Aaron Finch & his team have arrived in the UAE on the back of five consecutive series defeats. And so uninspiring were the Aussies in their two warm-up matches that their lack of form strangely seems to have overshadowed South Africa's rather impressive form in the lead-up to this contest. The last time Australia ironically did win a T20 rubber was on South African soil on the cusp of the global pandemic in early 2020. It's a series largely remembered for Ashton Agar's hat-trick and not much else. That the world changed forever only a few days post that tour only added to the lack of recall value around it.
It's also largely reflective of the lack of overall impact both teams have had on international T20 cricket. And how they've never really come close to cracking the code in spite of possessing and producing some of the best players around for the format. It kind of explains why despite their successful run of late, the Proteas aren't yet being talked up as a potential force to be reckoned with in the World Cup. Since the completion of the 2016 T20 WC, Australia have won only half of their games – 29 out of the 58. Their win% of 50 is only ahead of New Zealand and West Indies among the teams that directly qualified for Super 12. South Africa are only slightly better than them having won 28 of their 51 matches in that period.
Not surprisingly, neither team has any great pedigree in T20 world events. Australia have made one final, in 2010, while South Africa have gone as far as the semifinal on two occasions. To further accentuate the absence of any meaningful history between them, their only meeting across 6 previous editions of the T20 WC came in 2012, a league encounter dominated by Australia.
In some ways, the two teams couldn't have met at a better time for their own respective sakes. Their group has after all only got even more competitive with two very strong subcontinent teams having made it through from the early round. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh aren't just better suited for these conditions than Australia and South Africa. They're also coming in on the back of some rather competitive matches against their early opponents. So an early win for either team on Saturday (October 23) could well decide how long they last this time around. It's only going to get tougher for both post Saturday.
When: Australia v South Africa, Super 12 Group 1, October 23 14:00 Local, 15:30 IST
Where: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
What to expect: Aaron Finch is pragmatic at most times. But he's taken his logicality up a notch over the last few days whenever he's been asked about the pitches in the UAE. And he was no different on the eve of his team's opening game, making it a point to mention that these surfaces would be different to the ones seen during the IPL.
Abu Dhabi saw perhaps the most evenly matched contests between bat and ball, with an overall run-rate over 8.2 an over. We also did see teams beginning to chase down totals more comfortably as the IPL wore on, with dew playing a role. That will not be the case during the day games-Australia only play one game under lights-which should in some ways suit both teams and their approach to T20 cricket.
T20I Head-to-Head: Australia 13 South Africa 8 (1-0 in T20 WCs)
Injury/Availability Concerns: The only real injury concern coming into this World Cup was the bowling fitness of Marcus Stoinis. But he seemed quite at ease with his body during the game against India and Finch did talk about the crucial role that the all-rounder will have to play with the ball alongside Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh.
Tactics & Matchups: It's a game that could well be decided within the powerplays. Australia's strength in T20 cricket, especially against South Africa, has been Warner and Finch putting on big stands at the top of the order and giving their middle-order the licence to launch assaults. It was against the Proteas that Warner had announced himself on the world stage over a decade ago and he's continued in that vein, averaging 35.15 with a strike-rate of 148.86. What better time than now to regain his form against them.
Add to it the fact that South Africa have been the most expensive team in the powerplay with ball in hand over the last two years. And that'll mean the longer the openers bat, the fewer overs the likes of Maxwell and Stoinis might have to face from the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje. The match-up that could eventually decide the game though will come in the middle-overs when Steve Smith goes up against Tabraiz Shamsi. Finch's decision to play the extra batter in some ways gives him the flexibility to be more forceful with the bat in the powerplay, like they tried being against New Zealand in their first warm-up.
Probable XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), Ashton Agar/Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood
Injury/Availability Concerns: Temba Bavuma played his first match on Monday after 50 days out with a broken thumb. He has come through both warm-up games unscathed. Tabraiz Shamsi left Wednesday's match against Pakistan with a tight groin after bowling only four balls, but Bavuma said on Friday he had passed a fitness test.
Tactics & Matchups: Bavuma opened and batted at No. 4 in the warm-ups, and scored 77 runs at a strike rate of 95.06 – not nearly fast enough. But South Africa will look to him to anchor the innings. Rassie van der Dussen's 51-ball 101 not out against Pakistan was a thing of beauty, and his first time past 50 in eight T20 innings. South Africa will need him, especially if Quinton de Kock doesn't bounce back from his singe-figure efforts in the warm-ups. Shamsi is key to an attack that finally found its spin mojo in Sri Lanka in September.
Probable XI: Quinton de Kock (wk), Temba Bavuma (c), Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi.
Did You Know:
– Australia and South Africa have an identical win-loss record in T20 WCs. Australia have won 16 and lost 13 out of 29 games; South Africa have won 18 and lost 12 out of 30 games.
– David Warner averages 35.15 in the 14 T20I innings against South Africa, where he's scored 457 runs at a SR of 148.86
– Tabraiz Shamsi has picked 28 wickets in 17 T20Is this year
What They Said:
“With the bat, they are quite top heavy with guys like [Aaron] Finch, [David] Warner, [and Steve] Smith at the top. We are looking to strike up front and put their middle order batters under pressure. The earlier we can get those guys in, the more we can put them under pressure.” – South Africa captain Temba Bavuma.
(With Inputs from Telford Vice)