South Africa v Australia, 1st T20, Durban March 3, 2016

Uncertain Australia next target for South Africa


Match facts

Friday, March 4, 2016
Start time 1800 local (1600GMT)

Big picture

When this season started, South Africans would not have guessed the most enjoyable part would come at the end. After back-to-back Test series defeats, which would have taken supporters by surprise, the limited-overs' squads have put smiles on faces with their feisty performances. The T20 side has even raised hope.

After winning three of their last four series, Faf du Plessis' team seems to have ticked all the boxes and thoughts of a trophy will not be too far away. But before South Africans allow themselves to dream of anything like that, they will want to see how their team goes against a side that has often proved to be their nemesis.

Although South Africa and Australia have not met at the last two global tournaments and will not meet at this one until at least semi-final stage, South Africans still use Australia as a yardstick. If they can beat their old enemy, South Africa will consider themselves ready to take on the world. If they lose to them, the confidence built up over the last few months will be crushed.

Australia know how much influence they can have on this South Africa side and will use that to try and imprint as much doubt into their minds as possible. At the same time, Australia need to create certainties for themselves after falling behind in this format.

They have only played eight matches in this format since the last World T20 and are coming off a whitewash at the hands of India but they have beefed their squad up since that defeat. They are in South Africa to show how much stronger they can be and Kingsmead will have a full house as witness.

Form guide

(last five completed games most recent first)
South Africa WWWWL
Australia LLLLW

In the spotlight

If you believe Russell Domingo and Faf du Plessis, someone should feed Dale Steyn. Both the coach and the captain have described their premier paceman as "hungry," but the only thing he wants his fill of is wickets. Steyn has spent the last two months watching cricket from the stands, surfing and spending time with his dogs, all while recovering from a shoulder injury. He resumed bowling with his team-mates in the nets two weeks ago, played his first competitive cricket five days ago and will now make his international comeback. Steyn has to get through these matches in order to part of South Africa's travelling party to the World T20 but all the talk is that Steyn is not just looking to get through, but to make a few breakthroughs as well.

At the start of this year, Steven Smith was not even a regular in Australia's T20 squad. Now, he is their captain. Smith's rise is complete. He leads Australia in all three formats and has the chance to take them to their first victory in a World T20 - the only global trophy Australia have not won. Smith will have to bring together a squad rejigged at the last moment but, on paper at least, includes hard-hitting batsmen, aggressive bowlers and exciting spinners. Now, it's to see what their captain can do with that.

Team news

Du Plessis has suggested South Africa will play their first-choice team for the series opener which means that even though they will give Quinton de Kock a chance to open the batting with AB de Villiers, it may not be in this match. Steyn is also certain to make a return which could mean no space for Kyle Abbott unless one of the allrounders sits out.

South Africa: 1 Hashim Amla, 2 AB de Villiers (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis (capt), 4 JP Duminy, 5 David Miller, 6 Rilee Rossouw, 7 Chris Morris, 8 David Wiese, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Imran Tahir

Sydney team-mates Usman Khawaja and Shane Watson are likely to open the batting for Australia which may mean no space for Aaron Finch. The top order will be strengthened by Smith and David Warner followed by Glenn Maxwell. Adam Zampa is struggling with a stomach bug and missed Thursday's training, which may give Ashton Agar a T20 debut.

Australia: 1 Usman Khawaja, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 David Warner, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 James Faulkner, 7 Mitchell Marsh, 8 Peter Nevill (wk), 9 Andrew Tye/John Hastings, 10 Josh Hazlewood, 11 Ashton Agar/Adam Zampa

Pitch and conditions

Smith asked South Africa's groundsmen to prepare pitches that resembled subcontinental strips and that may be exactly what he is getting. The Kingsmead surface is said to be slow and will take turn which could mean a low total. Although locals are talking about the rain, the forecast is clear with the evening game meaning temperatures would have cooled from the mid-30s to the upper 20s by the time the match starts. Humidity will remain high, at close to 90%.

Stats and trivia

  • While Australia are No.1 in Test and ODI cricket, they lie seventh on the T20. South Africa are in second place.

  • However, Australia have the upper hand over South Africa in the format. They have won nine of the 14 completed matches between the two sides, including their only meeting at a World T20 in 2012 in Colombo.

  • Smith has captained Australia once before in T20s - against England at Cardiff - where he made 90


"It looks like we're ticking all the boxes as a team. There's no area in our team where I feel it's a weakness. I feel every gap has been plugged and that's very nice to have."
Faf du Plessis

"We want to win every series that we play, hopefully some guys get some runs and take some wickets and we'll put on a good fielding display before the World T20 in a week's time."
Steven Smith

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • eng_mdkhan on March 4, 2016, 17:55 GMT

    SA by far were settled with the batting lineuo v england, i am seriously quite bemuses at this unnecessary changes, not good for sa

  • Drew12 on March 4, 2016, 17:41 GMT

    @BAGHELS.A I'm very sorry, but Andrew choses to post whatever he likes. If he posts my comment, what of it? In any case, a very typical Australian innings. Explosive at the start and then simmering at the end. Terrific stuff. I actually don't want Australia to every win the t20 cup, honest to God truth. I wish they would just stop playing It20, leave it to domestic cricket. Just my opinion ;-)

  • TALKING_CRICKET on March 4, 2016, 15:05 GMT

    Hmm..Warner at 4 interesting,cud turn out to be a masterstroke.If a team is even considering to drop their most inform batter ,best young talent at present ( no prices fr guessing !!!!!)then one must question their staff's cricketing sense.

  • South_African_ on March 4, 2016, 15:04 GMT

    Its simple..of course Q De Kock will play as AB deVilliers doesnt (and will refuse to) want to keep wicket. And faf will NEVER give up his 3 spot.. so goodbye Amla , you will be on the bench. Any of you true cricket fans..look up the strike rates and averages of the t20batsmen. and be surprised. Just because Amla plays decent shots and doesnt look like he is clobbering the ball (or stance emulating a baseball player ready for battle) doesnt mean he scores slowly.Unfortunately i have lost respect for AB ... he seems like he blows hot and cold... one minute threatening to reduce work load, the next , taking on more T20 commitments. He is defintely a genius...who throws toys out of the cot. Reminds me a little of Kevin Pieterson. EGO before love for the game.

  • sriram8707 on March 4, 2016, 15:03 GMT

    Would love to see QDK and Amla opening the innings. DuPlessis should bat at 3 followed by ABD. ABD is their best batsman and if he opens the innings and gets out cheaply, the entire team will look shaky.

  • Nisar_Chachar on March 4, 2016, 14:46 GMT

    I think Australia don't have good bowling attack therefore they have to win with their batting

  • baghels.a on March 4, 2016, 14:40 GMT

    Some of the Aussie posters we don't care about T20 routine is now getting repetitive and tiresome, it not only digresses from the main topic but is disrespectful towards other posters who are actually trying to contribute something meaningful. Regular readers of Cricinfo know your stated position on T20 and respect it but do you fellas really need to repeat it Ad Infinitum ??

  • Jose...P on March 4, 2016, 13:42 GMT

    Starc is OZ's best bowler. Any idea when he will be fit? Even on Indian pitches, he would have made an impact. He is a thinking bowler, who can adapt even in his delivery stride! In unhelpful pitches, that kind of 'cat & mouse' game may, often, get wickets.

    When there is no swing, one needs a workhorse, that too a precision one. Dunger.Bob mentioned about my high regard for Hastings. He will do that role better than anyone, though in terms of keeping the line tight, Josh looks the one. You can get Josh dispirited, not Hastings, it seems. Looks a tough cookie, attitudinally.

    Anyone who can slide the ball thru at high pace and low bounce will get wickets in India. Cramping for space & restricting free movement will also be a big virtue. Both will fetch higher reward than sheer pace or bounce.

    I really don't know 'who is who' in terms of those virtues in the current battery of bowlers in the OZ team /bench. Just thought of ventilating my view. For whatever penny's worth.

  • baghels.a on March 4, 2016, 13:10 GMT

    Some of the Aussie posters often unprovoked T20 results does not matter to us routine is now getting repetitive and tiresome, it not only digresses from the main topic but is disrespectful towards other posters who are actually trying to contribute something meaningful. Regular readers of Cricinfo know your stated position on T20 and respect it but do you fellas need to repeat it Ad Infinitum ??

  • ArkArkArk on March 4, 2016, 13:03 GMT

    Im an aussie through and through, but i appreciate the ability of the too players on show. The negative press dale steyn has received that he is past it and should retire, i genuinally think that he will know as a professional and someone whi has lit up workd cricket over the years. Do i want him to bowl us out? God no- but give him a chance to prove himself after injury. Love watching him bowl!

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