South Africa out to erase poor Australia record
September 30, 2012
Start time 1530 local (1000 GMT)
Another classic encounter beckons for this group as the "best of enemies," as they were once called meet. South Africa and Australia history at major tournaments needs only one number to get blood boiling: 1999.
But there are others. In the 2007 World Cup, South Africa lost twice to Australia, once in the group stage and once in the semi-final. Australia have had the better of South Africa in major tournaments since Sydney 1992, when South Africa beat them by nine wickets.
This time, the contest is no more insubstantial. Australia could seal their place in the semi-final with a win and ease their passage to a trophy they have yet to lay claim on. If that happens, South Africa could be looking for the exit signs of yet another major tournament. If it does not, South Africa will live to fight another day, something they have promised to do in pursuit of silverware.
Even without the history, the match-ups are compelling. Both George Bailey and AB de Villiers are in the process of proving themselves as captains, South Africa have an experienced pace attack in Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, Australia a youthful one with Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc leading their charge. Richard Levi was talked about as having the power of David Warner, but lacks the consistency and Jacques Kallis and Brad Hogg are two of the oldest men at the event who will no doubt take bragging rights from whoever makes a more athletic save in the field.
Although the tournament itself has been livened up since the group stage, South Africa and Australia have never disappointed when it comes to thrills. Theirs could be some of the bigger ones of an already big event.
Form guide(completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa LWWLW
Watch out for
Although Colombo is not a quick bowler's favourite place Pat Cummins may have other reasons to be excited for this encounter. Cummins announced himself as an international cricketer in South Africa last year when he impressed with his speed and sensible strategising and had some of the South African batsmen in fear. Who can forget how he worked over Jacques Kallis and the contest could be resumed in this match.
Once shaky but now solid, JP Duminy has become a go-to man for South Africa and one of their most reliable presences on the field. Duminy's problems against spin are a thing of the past, his level head has helped steady the batting in everything from a Test match in England to the T20 against Pakistan. He also took a crucial wicket and an athletic catch and his all-round presence is an important one for South Africa if they hope to go all the way this time.
Dale Steyn, who took a blow to the ankle against Pakistan, is likely to be fit after the injury was revealed to only be a bruising. Although South Africa struggled with the bat against Pakistan, AB de Villiers did not forsee any changes to his XI but did say they would "look at a few things." Faf du Plessis may be brought into the top three in place of the misfiring Richard Levi and will also offer an additional spin option, as would Justin Ontong. If Steyn is unable to play, Lonwabo Tsotsobe or Wayne Parnell could take his place.
South Africa (probable): 1 Richard Levi, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Farhaan Behardien, 7 Albie Morkel 8 Johan Botha 9 Robin Peterson 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Dale Steyn
After outclassing India in all departments on Friday, Australia could go in with the same XI.
Australia (probable): 1 David Warner, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Mike Hussey, 4 Cameron White, 5 George Bailey (capt), 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Dan Christian, 9 Brad Hogg, 10 Pat Cummins, 11 Mitchell Starc
Pitch and conditions
Colombo's slow turner is not the kind of surface South Africa and Australia usually do battle on. Far from the pace of the WACA or the Wanderers, it will not have much in it for the fast men. Instead the likes of Robin Peterson, Glenn Maxwell, Johan Botha and Brad Hogg will be looking to make names for themselves that Allan Donald and Glenn McGrath made in previous rivalries between the two. Run scoring has proved difficult as well with totals of around 150 considered par. Another hot day is expected, with high humidity and, as always, a chance of rain.
Stats and trivia
- David Warner is one of only five batsmen to have scored more than 1,000 T20 runs. South Africa's closest to that mark is Graeme Smith, who has 982 runs but is not in the World T20 squad.
- Albie Morkel is the only bowler to have taken a wicket without conceding a run in a T20 match. He has done it twice, both times against England.
Quotes"If we play better cricket, we will go through to the semi-finals and there won't be any choking there, that's for sure."
After South Africa's loss to Pakistan, AB de Villiers shrugged off suggestions of choking and said his men understand the importance of their next two matches
"We have got our fingers crossed that they will play AB de Villiers as low as they possibly can. That will work in our favour."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent