Series at stake for rusty hosts
South Africa v Australia, October 23, Port Elizabeth
Start time 1300 (1100 GMT, 2200 EDT, 2130 CDT, 1900 WST)
Rain did not help, but South Africa were caught very much on the hop by Australia in the first ODI at Centurion. After Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke stood up to some strong early bowling in a manner that allowed Duckworth-Lewis to work heavily in the tourists' favour, Doug Bollinger, Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins and Xavier Doherty had their way with the ball against some indifferent batting in greasy conditions.
Having had a six-month break from international cricket, South Africa will be better for the run and will not be making too many changes to the team. However they must win at St George's Park in order to stay in the series, being played over a tightly-squeezed three fixtures much as the Test series was chopped back to two matches by the financial weight of the Champions League Twenty20.
Australia, by contrast, will simply want to keep up the impressive momentum built first in Sri Lanka then added to in Pretoria. Clarke is marshalling a unit that gathers confidence with each match, so much so that the visitors did not seem too badly off without the injured duo of Shaun Marsh and Shane Watson in the first match. Their returns would only strengthen a team that has also been enthused by the rapid progress of the teenagers Pat Cummins and Mitchell Marsh.
South Africa: LLWWW
In the spotlight
JP Duminy was commonly described as the next great international batsman after demonstrating enormous composure and neat technique in Australia in 2008-09. He has struggled to live up to that billing ever since, and so far in the T20s and first ODI has found himself dismissed each time by the rampant young Cummins, whose speed and bounce has twice found an outside edge to the slips. As a link between the hard-bitten top three of Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis, and the inexperience of David Miller and Faf du Plessis, Duminy must do more.
The sight of Mitchell Johnson swinging the new ball would have brought the odd curse from the South African dressing room at Centurion, as it suggests he can be as much a threat this time around as he was in 2009. Johnson likes to build his confidence with plenty of overs and wickets, which in turn may help to re-ignite a batting talent that has sat largely dormant in recent matches. The only possible criticism of Johnson in the first match was that he did not bowl enough deliveries of full length when he was swinging them, probing for the early bowled or lbw that he managed so often two and a half years ago.
Pitch and conditions
Port Elizabeth can have plenty of runs in it while also providing some incentives for bowlers. Breezy and mild weather is forecast and there is little prospect of the rain that so disrupted proceedings in Pretoria.
South Africa will again deliberate over the possible inclusion of the legspinner Imran Tahir. It is the only change the hosts may make after the selectors chose to release Robin Peterson and Wayne Parnell for domestic duties.
South Africa (probable) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Hashim Amla (capt), 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 Jean-Paul Duminy, 5 David Miller, 6 Faf du Plessis, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Johan Botha, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh are back in training after minor injuries but the tourists may elect to ease the duo in one at a time, with Steve Smith the man most likely to make way.
Australia (probable) 1 Shaun Marsh, 2 David Warner, 3 Ricky Ponting, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Michael Hussey, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Xavier Doherty, 11 Doug Bollinger.
Stats & trivia
- An Australian victory would hand the tourists a limited overs series victory in South Africa for the third time, but the first since 2002. The Proteas won series in 2006 and 2009.
- The first ODI between these sides at St George's Park in 1994 saw a memorable cameo by Allan Border, who blazed 40 from 17 balls including three sixes on his final international tour. Australia's total was 281 for 6, considered an enormous tally at the time, and South Africa never got close.
"St George's Park generally offers the spinners something, but if you hit the wicket hard enough there is something in it for the seamers. So whether you play two spinners or one spinner it's not going to make a massive difference."
Russell Domingo, South Africa's assistant coach, on the conditions at the ground where he made his name as a coach for the Warriors franchise
"We're here to win all three one-day games so our mindset is very clear. We're very focussed on the job at hand. We want to win the game, we'll worry about what that means later."
Australia captain Michael Clarke on his team's desire to clean sweep their hosts
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo