Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Australia seek end to longest losing streak in ODIs

Big picture

Australia's public - at least those with a match-day ticket or a Foxtel subscription - will turn their lonely eyes towards Adelaide Oval on Friday, hopeful that the national team will put on a better show than the one in Perth on Sunday. Against a well organised and confident South Africa, Aaron Finch's team looked cloudy in mind and slow of feet, whether in terms of the footwork required to blunt the pace attack or the tactics to unsettle the visitors' pursuit of a paltry target.

Mitchell Starc can at least expect to return to new-ball duty after a short-lived attempt to try Nathan Coulter-Nile instead, a change leapt on by Quinton de Kock at the top of the South African chase. In the midst of a seven-ODI losing streak, it was understandable for the Australians to try some things, but relegating your leading new-ball bowler by a distance to first change seemed redolent of overthought.

It will be intriguing to see whether there is much on-field reaction to the removal of the long time team performance chief Pat Howard, who had always favoured statistical evidence-based solutions and analysis of the game. Finch spoke sympathetically of Howard's role, but there is little doubt that the coach Justin Langer will appreciate a little more clear air around him in coming weeks and months.

"When you're in his position, you're in a no-win position," Finch said of Howard. "A lot of the time you have to rob Peter to pay Paul to change all the structures around. And whatever is best for the men's side might not be the best thing for one state in particular at the time. He was in a really difficult situation and did an unbelievable job during that period. It's unfortunate that Pat has gone, I know how much he loved the game."

For South Africa, the opportunity is there to add to Australia's baggage ahead of next year's World Cup in England by sailing to a series win in two matches. At the same time, young players like Reeza Hendricks and Lungi Ngidi have the chance to get used to beating Australia away from home - a mental advantage they can carry into future tours down under.

Form guide

Australia LLLLL
South Africa WWWWL

In the spotlight

Having fallen cheaply in the series opener, Travis Head will take the field at his Adelaide Oval home ground knowing two things. The first is that this Australian side is short of confidence and in desperate need of someone to turn this around for them, preferably from the top of the order where he is posted alongside the captain Finch. The second is that in recent times, Head has made a habit of starts that do not become big scores - three consecutive fifties in the ODI series in England might so easily have been more, and he also slipped frustratingly short of a debut Test hundred in the UAE. Selection in this series also means he lacks the Sheffield Shield platform to shore up his spot in the longer form of the game.

No-one set things up for South Africa in Perth quite like Dale Steyn in his opening spell. While new ball swing was only subtly available, he used this to his advantage with a wonderfully precise length, line and angle across the left-handers in particular. The combination of experience and cutting edge Steyn provided in the opening match spoke volumes for his quality as a paceman, and also sent Australia spiralling in a manner from which they never quite recovered. On an Adelaide pitch that also promises at least a smattering of grass, fortune may well hide in the palm of Steyn's right hand.

Team news

Australia are hopeful of returning Shaun Marsh to No. 3 following minor surgery for an abscess on his buttocks, at the expense of D'Arcy Short. They must also consider the inclusion of the legspinner Adam Zampa.

Australia (probable) 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 Travis Head, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Chris Lynn, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Given how balanced and settled the South Africans appeared in Perth, an unchanged side appears likely.

South Africa (probable) 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Reeza Hendricks, 3 Aiden Markram, 4 Faf du Plessis (capt), 5 David Miller, 6 Heinrich Klaasen, 7 Andile Phehlukwayo, 8 Dale Steyn, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Lungi Ngidi, 11 Imran Tahir

Pitch and conditions

Adelaide Oval's drop-in pitch generally sports a coverage of some grass to aid pace off the surface and also the bat. The weather forecast is for fine, temperate conditions of about 20C.

Stats and trivia

  • Australia require a win to end what, at seven, is already their longest ever sequence of consecutive ODI defeats. The previous sequence of six in late 1996 was part of the path that led to Steve Waugh taking over the limited-overs captaincy from Mark Taylor. This time around, Finch will hope his just-begun tenure can move clear of the recent wreckage.

  • South Africa defeated Australia by eight wickets in their only previous ODI meeting at Adelaide Oval, on Australia Day in January 2009.


"When there are changes, and there's things being said and written about, I think it's hard not to read it sometimes when it's everywhere. For me personally, I don't think it affected me in terms of my preparation or my performance. You might spend a little bit of time reading it, and putting some kind of doubts in your mind at times. But I think it's about each individual being 100% committed to their plans and doing whatever the team needs to get the job done."
Aaron Finch has tried to look past Australian cricket's current state of upheaval

"If you do get an opportunity against Australia where you can put your foot on the gas, it's really important to try and do that because it's not often you get those opportunities."
Faf du Plessis believes his team must remain ruthless

South Africa 2nd innings Partnerships

1st18RR HendricksQ de Kock
2nd28RR HendricksAK Markram
3rd2F du PlessisRR Hendricks
4th20F du PlessisH Klaasen
5th74F du PlessisDA Miller
6th32DA MillerD Pretorius
7th10DW SteynDA Miller
8th3DA MillerK Rabada
9th15L NgidiK Rabada
10th22Imran TahirL Ngidi