South Africa chase more spoils
Match factsMarch 29, 2009
Start time 18.00 (16.00 GMT)
Big PictureSouth Africa's surge from the third Test continued with an opening victory in the Twenty20 in Johannesburg on Friday and Johan Botha seeks further momentum at Centurion on Sunday. The match, the first Twenty20 international at the stadium, is the last cobweb wiper before the one-day series starts on Friday and both sides want to enter it on a mini-high.
Whether it was ring-rust from the five-day break or a general failure to make the transition from the Tests, the Australians were largely underwhelming at the Wanderers. If not for the all-round efforts of David Hussey, the tourists might well have expected a hiding, rather than the tense four-wicket loss.
Australia's batting looked suspect, with Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting and Brad Haddin unable to make a significant impact on the scoring rate and eventually gifting their wickets away. The decision to bowl Shane Harwood and Brett Geeves - with one Twenty20 international between them - in the final two overs appeared more curious with each boundary, as South Africa sealed victory with four balls to spare.
South Africa can look towards the Twenty20 World Cup with increasing confidence. Wayne Parnell formed a successful new-ball pairing with Dale Steyn, and the spin of Botha and Robin Peterson muzzled Australia's batsmen for extended periods. The hosts' top order stuttered in the run chase, but Albie Morkel and Mark Boucher - part of a deep South African batting line-up - ensured Australia's total always remained within reach. The teams have been so evenly matched in 2008-09 that it wouldn't get boring if they were allowed to battle for the rest of the year.
Form guide (last five Twenty20s, most recent first)South Africa WLLWL
Watch out forAny time Albie Morkel walks into an Australian bowler's line of vision they must shudder. This year he has swept games and quick runs regularly from his green and gold opponents. Ponting has spoken about finding ways to shut him down, but it is as tough as it was to keep Lance Klusener, another heavy-hitting left-hander, quiet in the 1990s.
David Hussey is finishing his season in fine form after some difficulties on the international scene back in Australia. He ended the local campaign with Victoria with a century in their Sheffield Shield final victory and started his South Africa tour with a punishing 88 off 44 balls, including six sixes, and a Man-of-the-Match award. "I think I averaged about 15 before Friday night's innings," he told AAP, "so I really needed to do something."
Team newsSouth Africa carry a large squad and they started the series wanting to give all 15 players a game. The only certainties appear to be Botha and the wicketkeeper Boucher, but Morkel has become invaluable and will be keen to keep up his hot streak.
South Africa squad 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.
Harwood was punished in the opening game but he will get another go before flying home with David Warner, the other Twenty20 specialist in the squad. Nathan Bracken will appear in his first match of the tour.
Australia squad 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 conditionsA fine day is forecast for Sunday with some cloud patches in the evening. The previous international at the ground was South Africa's innings and 48-run win over Bangladesh in November, when the visitors were dismissed for 250 and 131.
Stats and Trivia
- Morkel has 231 runs from 168 balls in his one Test, four ODIs and three Twenty20s against Australia over the past three months
- Harwood's 0 for 48 from four overs equalled the second-worst figures by an Australian, a mark also held by Glenn McGrath. Jason Gillespie is on top with 0 for 49
- Australia have lost only two Twenty20s in a row once, when they were beaten by India in 2007
- South Africa can level their Twenty20 head-to-head with Australia at 3-3 if they win on Sunday
Quotes"It's about giving a few other guys some exposure. We've got a bigger picture with the Twenty20 World Cup not that far away.''
"If we can win [at Centurion], it will definitely give us momentum for the one-dayers."