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The Preview by Firdose Moonda
March 13, 2014
March 14, 2014
Start time 1800 (1600GMT)
Centurion is a long way from Chittagong but it is the last place South Africa and Australia will meet before they go in search of a piece of ICC silverware neither has won before. It was also the first place they met on this tour, little more than four weeks ago.
Since then, Australia have announced their threat as a Test team by beating the top-ranked side in their own backyard; a man who served his country for 12 years and led them for 11 - Graeme Smith - retired; the two boards are in talks to lengthen future Test series to four matches and a T20 series that seemed destined to be washed out managed to squeeze in 14 overs in Durban. Both teams will want nothing less than another 20 overs as they finalise their preparations for the World T20.
As much as that tournament will be at the back of both camps' minds, so will the competitive streak between both sides. It doesn't matter what the occasion, these teams manage to bring out the best and worst in each other. It took only an hour of intensity at Kingsmead to prove that.
South Africa posted the highest seven-over total, which required Australia to score at almost two runs a ball to win. They managed, despite losing two wickets in an over that went for just five runs. Despite the rain and the gimmicky nature of a shortened match, it was a contest worth watching and this one is expected to be no different.
Centurion is where it all started for Australia and is where it will end for both teams, until next time.
Form guide(completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for
South Africa's finishers did not have the opportunity to get into the game at Kingsmead with the top three doing all the batting. Albie Morkel, in particular, will be anxious for crease time having not played international cricket for 18 months before doing only fielding duty in Durban. AB de Villiers, JP Duminy and David Miller will also want the opportunity to see how they can end innings off for South Africa.
Having only played the third Test, bowled one over in the second T20 and batted for 11 minutes Shane Watson will be keen to make his presence felt. With the news that he will captain Rajasthan Royals in the IPL and his own tough talk about his country's chances at the World T20, Watson will want to show he can also walk the walk before the tournament begins.
Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are still in the final stages of recovery following injuries and are unlikely to feature for South Africa again. That will mean Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Wayne Parnell and Beuran Hendricks will share the bulk of the seam bowling duties with Kyle Abbott, who is not included in the World T20 squad, unlikely to feature. De Villiers could be back after being rested from the Durban match which will mean no place for Farhaan Behardien and South Africa may want to field a specialist spinner to give Imran Tahir game time before the big event.
South Africa: (likely) 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis (capt), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Beuran Hendricks, 10 Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 11 Imran Tahir
Australia will not want to tinker too much with a batting line-up that has been rejigged to include David Warner and Watson. With Brad Hogg fit, there may not be room for another spinner in James Muirhead and Moises Henriques could also find himself on the sidelines again.
Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 George Bailey (capt), 6 Brad Hodge, 7 Brad Haddin (wk) 8 Brad Hogg, 9 Dan Christian, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Nathan Coulter-Nile
Pitch and conditions
With wet weather dominating the build-up, the pitch would have had to have been prepared under a tent and ever-present moisture could mean a tricky batting track. South Africa's Highveld has been hard hit by rain over the last two weeks, but Friday is forecast to stay dry, despite being cool and cloudy. There's a strong chance a full game will be played which will ensure the South African international summer ends on a high note.
Stats and trivia
"There's always a lesson no matter how many overs you play. Australia won the game and deserved to do so, but I wasn't too disappointed about the way we played."
South Africa's coach Russell Domingo was pleased his players got some game time in Durban ahead of the World T20
"Anytime when you get to put yourself under pressure, it's good. I'm just here to complement those guys up the top and use my experience."
Brad Hodge enjoyed being at the business end of the seven-over shootout in Durban
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the first day of the second Test between Australia and India in Brisbane