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Australia seek fast start in more familiar climes

Match facts

September 27, 2016
Start time 1000 local (0800 GMT)

Big Picture

Following a Sri Lanka tour that was at times traumatic (the Tests) and at others more encouraging (the ODIs), there is an undoubted sense of anticipation among Australia's cricketers about playing in more familiar South African climes. It is no mystery that this is the country where Australia have enjoyed the most away success over the past 20 years or so, for there is minimal adjustment to be made from Australian surfaces. That being said, batsmen and bowlers who strove for weeks to come to grips with Asian pitches and Sri Lanka's phalanx of spin bowlers will now have to adjust back "up" to a little more bounce, pace and quantities of seam bowling.

So too will Australia's captain Steven Smith need to build a rapport with some new pace-bowling assets, after the decision to rest both Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood from this tour. Daniel Worrall, Joe Mennie and Chris Tremain have all performed well for their states, but the shift to international-level scrutiny and responsibility always stretches the mental resources of young cricketers. A meeting with Ireland in South Africa may be to the slightly less demanding end of the international cricketing scale, but Smith will need to make sure his bowling attack is in good discipline nonetheless. They are being mentored, too, by a new figure - David Saker, the former England bowling coach, is on his first tour as Darren Lehmann's assistant.

Ireland, meanwhile, have been stung by a heavy defeat at the hands of South Africa, and will want to make amends against opponents who have also served as useful allies in terms of encouraging this emerging team's rise to the cusp of full international status in the game. The flip side of administrative assistance from Cricket Australia has been several bruising defeats for William Porterfield's men, but it should also be stated that their most recent meeting last year ended in a creditable 23-run margin of defeat. Whether the Irish can better that result against an Australian side gearing up to face South Africa will soon be known.

Form guide

Australia WWWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Ireland LLWLW

In the spotlight

When he returned home after the first two ODIs in Sri Lanka Steven Smith looked, for the first time in his brief Australian captaincy tenure, like he needed a break. This was as much a mental refresh as a physical one, ensuring his mind would be cleared of the failings of the Test side in Asia ahead of assignments in contrasting conditions. David Warner shone as stand-in captain during Smith's absence, and the full-time leader will be eager to reassert his primacy in charge by starting well against Ireland. He has spoken of wanting the Australian side to be more assertive under his leadership, and it will be fascinating to see how far chests are puffed out at Benoni.

Celebrations of a dramatic County Championship victory with Middlesex did not stop Tim Murtagh from fronting up for Ireland against South Africa a few days later. He put in a reasonable shift too, going for fewer than six runs an over as South Africa teed off against other members of the Ireland attack. Against an Australian side new in the country and coming off a trip to Sri Lanka, it will be up to Murtagh in particular to probe for weaknesses in techniques that must now revert to more conventional, harder-wicket methods.

Teams news

Australia named their playing XI on the eve of the match, with right-arm fast bowler Daniel Worrall set to make his ODI debut.**

Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 George Bailey, 5 Travis Head, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 John Hastings, 9 Adam Zampa, 10 Scott Boland, 11 Daniel Worrall

Niall O'Brien, who was forced to sit out the match against South Africa because he slipped and hit his head in the bathroom before the game, has been ruled out of the Australia game with a concussion.* Andy McBrine is a possible inclusion for Ireland should they wish to change things up after the heavy loss to South Africa.

Ireland (possible): 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 John Anderson, 4 Gary Wilson (wk), 5 Kevin O'Brien, 6 Sean Terry, 7 Stuart Poynter, 8 George Dockrell , 9 Tim Murtagh, 10 Craig Young, 11 Peter Chase

Pitch and conditions

South Africa showed there are plenty of runs in the Benoni surface, although by the end of the day it had slowed up and was aiding JP Duminy's off breaks. A similar pattern can be expected on Tuesday. The weather forecast is fine.

Stats and trivia

  • This will be the fifth meeting between Ireland and Australia in ODIs. Ireland have never won in matches dating back to 2007, but their margins of defeat - nine wickets, 39 runs and 23 runs, with a washout in Belfast in 2012 - are trending down

  • Australia will be playing their first international match at Willowmoore Park. Ireland have played at the ground three times, for two wins and Sunday's loss to South Africa

Quotes

"We haven't had too much to do with guys like Dave Warner and Steven Smith so it's been great to mix with them and see how they operate and hopefully we can just keep up and do well when we get our chance."
First-time Australia tourist Daniel Worrall

*12.30GMT, September 26: This section was updated after the news of Niall O'Brien came in
**18.30GMT, September 26: This section was updated once Steven Smith confirmed Australia's playing XI