Brendon Julian handed ODI caps to Joe Mennie and Chris Tremain before the toss, which resulted in the pair of pacemen sharing the new ball on debut. This was a difficult examination for the inexperienced pair, trying to subdue South Africa on a shirtfront of a Wanderers pitch, and both were to cop a fair degree of punishment even though both were able to beat the bat numerous times early on. Ultimately Tremain emerged with a little more credit, bowling well at the death and claiming a wicket. But figures of 1 for 78 and 0 for 82 weren't much to write home about.
The sight of Hashim Amla sitting on the sidelines, despite apparently being passed fit to play, was a surprise to many, not least the former South Africa captain Kepler Wessels, who remarked in commentary that he was "astonished" by the call. However the man who would have made way for Amla was Rilee Rossouw, who proceeded to reward the selectors' faith by compiling an excellent 75, characterised by plenty of crisp off-side strokes.
The futile chase
Steven Smith tried his best as captain to restrict the scoring rate, but his frustrations at not being able to do so were summed up when he gave chase to a Faf du Plessis straight drive midway through the innings. The Wanderers outfield was a little more mottled than usual, resulting in the occasional bobble, but du Plessis' stroke was well-timed enough to beat Smith to the rope. In his flailing effort to get there, Smith crashed hard into the advertising hoardings beyond, and rose gingerly and ruefully from his chase.
An unsettling pattern has emerged in the first two matches of the series for Australia, that of South Africa's batsmen being able to go on to big scores and strong partnerships while the visitors are unable to do the same. This time around no fewer than six Australian batsmen were able to make it to double figures, but none could better Travis Head's 51, admittedly his highest ODI score to date. Smith's dismissal was typical of the run of play, strangled down the leg side through an excellent catch by Quinton de Kock after looking in control.