South Africa v Australia, 1st Twenty20, Johannesburg

Eyes turn to Twenty20 prize

Peter English

March 26, 2009

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Match facts

March 27, 2009
Start time 18.00 (16.00 GMT)


AB de Villiers clubs one of his four successive sixes, South Africa v Australia, 3rd Test, 3rd day, Cape Town, March 21, 2009
AB de Villiers is fresh from his brutal 163 in the third Test in Cape Town © Getty Images
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Big Picture

After another action-packed Test series, the South Africans and Australians pull on their coloured clothes for the start of the limited-overs component of the heavyweight battle. The first of two Twenty20s starts in Johannesburg on Friday and is followed by the second in Centurion on Sunday.

The focus is starting to turn towards the Twenty20 World Cup in June and this is South Africa's last hit-out before the tournament. Australia have another engagement with Pakistan next month before heading towards England. In the two Twenty20s between the teams in Australia in January, the hosts won in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Form guide (last five Twenty20s, most recent first)

South Africa LLWLL
Australia WWWLW

Watch out for

AB de Villiers seemed to be warming up for the Twenty20 when he took Bryce McGain apart and launched Andrew McDonald for four sixes in a row during the third Test in Cape Town. The hitting was so strong it is rarely seen in the shortest form of the game, but it's what all the batsmen will be aiming for over the weekend. de Villiers enters the match fresh from his 163.

David Warner might have been in the international lights for only a couple of months, but he's not frightened by what awaits in Johannesburg. He has promised to take it to Dale Steyn and his mates, hoping for a reprise of the fireworks which led to his 89 from 43 balls in his maiden bat in Melbourne. Whether it's a skirmish or a lasting duel, the contest will be entertaining.

Team news

The hosts have a 15-man squad and plan to give everyone a game over the next three days, including unfamiliar faces such as Yusuf Abdulla, Johann Louw and Roelof van der Merwe. Johan Botha leads the side in the absence of the injured Graeme Smith, who is due to return for the opening of the five-game ODI series in Durban on Friday.

South Africa Johan Botha (capt), Yusuf Abdulla, Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher (wk), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Johann Louw, Albie Morkel, Justin Ontong, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Roelof van der Merwe, Vaughn van Jaarsveld.

David Warner and Shane Harwood have been flown in specifically for the Twenty20 games, so expect them to figure, and there should also be chances for the fast bowlers Ben Laughlin and Brett Geeves. Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus have headed home, leaving Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Bracken as the attack leaders.

Australia Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Nathan Bracken, Callum Ferguson, Brett Geeves, Brad Haddin (wk), Nathan Hauritz, James Hopes, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Laughlin, Marcus North, Cameron White, David Warner, Shane Harwood.

Pitch and conditions

Rain was a bit of a problem during the opening Test of the series, but the forecast is for a clear night on Friday. In the past the pitch has hosted world record scores and produced good conditions for fast bowlers.

Stats and Trivia

  • South Africa have a 6-2 winning record in Twenty20 matches at the Wanderers
  • Mitchell Johnson, who scored his first Test century in Cape Town, has the highest batting strike-rate of the Australian squad with 200 (he's only batted three times) while Cameron White's 188.33 has come over 113 runs. JP Duminy is the best for South Africa with 146.87 in eight games
  • Morne Morkel is second on South Africa's wicket list with 13, two behind Shaun Pollock, while Nathan Bracken leads Australia with 18

Quotes

"It's about time we started looking ahead to the Twenty20 World Cup as well and started to try to pencil in what we think is going to be our best team for that.''
Ricky Ponting

"Our record has not been particularly good of late in this format and this is our last chance to identify players before the ICC World T20."
Mike Procter, South Africa's selection convenor

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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