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April 2, 2009
Big PictureIt seems that every time these teams go head to head there's a No. 1 ranking up for grabs. Nothing has changed. South Africa took the top ODI spot thanks to their 4-1 victory in Australia in January but to retain their new status they need to stop Australia winning this five-game series. They will feel quietly confident with their captain Graeme Smith returning from a broken hand but Jacques Kallis is still not available due to a groin injury that kept him out of both the Twenty20 victories, although he should return for the second ODI on Sunday.
This series is the finale in what has been a fascinating summer between these two sides, who by the end will feel as if they know each other intimately after six Tests, 10 ODIs and four Twenty20 internationals in the past four months. The hosts have no more cricket on the agenda until the World Twenty20 in England in June, so this will be the last opportunity for a few players to put their names forward for that tournament. Australia will head straight from South Africa to the United Arab Emirates for a limited-overs series against Pakistan.
Form guide (last five ODIs, most recent first)South Africa WWWLW
Watch out forGraeme Smith hasn't been part of the South African side for any of the Twenty20s or one-day internationals against Australia up until now. A broken left hand kept him out of the matches in Australia and an almost identical fracture in his right hand stopped him playing the third Test and two Twenty20s in South Africa. After his side conceded the Tests at home Smith will be desperate to finish the summer on a high.
Mitchell Johnson was responsible for both of the breaks to Smith's hands and he will be keen to take the new ball and have a few more cracks at the South African captain before leaving the country. Australia's star in the Test series, Johnson has much to offer with bat and ball in the shorter format as well.
Team newsThe South Africans had been hopeful that Kallis would be fit but he didn't quite come through in time for the first game, although Smith is a definite starter. Morne Morkel and Makhaya Ntini have been added after being rested for the Twenty20s, while Yusuf Abdulla, Robin Peterson, Justin Ontong and Johann Louw were the Twenty20 squad members to make way. South Africa couldn't find a place for Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Roelof van der Merwe or Wayne Parnell in the starting line-up.
South Africa 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Herschelle Gibbs, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Mark Boucher (wk), 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Morne Morkel, 9 Johan Botha, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Makhaya Ntini.
For Australia, Shane Harwood and David Warner have both headed home after the Twenty20s while Marcus North and Ben Laughlin will be aiming to make their ODI debuts at some point through the series. It is strange that there was no place for Phillip Hughes in the limited-overs squad after his brilliant and aggressive arrival on the Test scene and instead Australia will likely rely on makeshift openers Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin.
Australia squad Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin (wk), Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Hussey, David Hussey, Callum Ferguson, Marcus North, James Hopes, Cameron White, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Brett Geeves, Nathan Bracken, Ben Laughlin.
Pitch and conditionsKingsmead is famous for its pace and bounce and in the day-night conditions the so-called "green mamba" influence of the tides is said to help the bowlers. The forecast for Friday is warm and cloudy.
Stats and Trivia
Quotes"It's always good to get the opportunity to bowl with the new ball to an opening batsman such as Graeme Smith who is such a great player."
"Friday, for us, is huge. We want to go one-nil up, and hopefully take momentum from that. So, yes, nice to win the Pro20s, but it's a different beast."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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