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Bowling woes grip Australia as whitewash looms

Match facts

October 12, 2016
Start time 1330 local (1130 GMT)

Big Picture

South Africa couldn't have asked for a better start to their summer. After having achieved their initial objective - a series win - they are in a position to inflict a whitewash against the top-ranked ODI side.

The margins of victory reflect how South Africa have been dominant in every aspect. Two of the wins have come with more than 10 overs to spare, another by more than 140 runs. In the only match Australia threatened to come close, in Kingsmead, a freak performance by an out-of-form David Miller sealed the series.

Miller apart, South Africa have been helped with contributions from Rilee Rossouw, Andile Phehlukwayo and Kyle Abbott, all of whom were considered fringe players coming into the series. That has meant South Africa are spoilt for choice, something Australia will covet.

That Australian haven't bowled South Africa out even once in the series reiterates the inexperience in their attack. But that doesn't mean there are no other headaches. Australia have crossed 300 just once and have been bowled out for under 220 twice. Their over-reliance on big names hasn't helped their cause. But they have the added motivation of trying to avoid being blanked.

That they will have to do that at one of South Africa's favourite grounds, in front of a sell-out crowd, will be a challenge. Newlands had earlier raised concerns about the match being scheduled on the same day as a religious holiday, Yom Kippur, but it seems the enthusiasm is hardly affected by that.

Form guide

South Africa: WWWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Australia: LLLLW

In the spotlight

With seven wickets in four matches, Andile Phehlukwayo has underlined the difference between both sides so far. Phehlukwayo is not part of the national squad in any other formats yet, but his ability to change pace and his maturity in accepting the responsibility of bowling at the death could change that. He has proved himself handy with the bat too, and can further boost his claim to be an allrounder.

Steven Smith and David Warner are the only two Australians to have scored a hundred so far. Smith, the captain, doesn't seem to bring as much out of his men as Warner did when he led them to an ODI series win in Sri Lanka. Before the series, Smith said he hoped to continue riding the wave Warner had created, but now may be left wondering if his one-day leadership credentials could be measured against Warner's.

Team news

South Africa are looking at bringing back their big bowling guns in search of a clean sweep. That means Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada may force one of Kyle Abbott or Phehlukwayo out of the XI. They may continue with two spinners, with Imran Tahir likely to be brought back in place of Tabraiz Shamsi, the left-arm wrist spinner. With the Tests looming, there's merit in giving Shamsi a breather and allowing him to fully recover from a quad niggle. Others walking wounded include Rossouw, who hurt his finger, and Farhaan Behardien, who tweaked a hamstring. Both passed fitness Tests, but Temba Bavuma has been at training as cover, while Miller has made sufficient progress from his groin strain.

South Africa (possible): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Faf du Plessis (capt), 4 Rilee Rossouw, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Farhaan Behardien/David Miller, 7 Dwaine Pretorius, 8 and 9 Andile Phehlukwayo/Kyle Abbott/Dale Steyn/Kagiso Rabada, 10 Aaron Phangiso, 11 Imran Tahir

Having tried all their bowling combinations in vain, Australia could make their young attack draw straws to decide which of Chris Tremain, Daniel Worrall, Joe Mennie or Scott Boland has to play the final ODI. Usman Khawaja has not been used at all and may be brought in to add depth to the batting.

Australia (possible): 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch/Usman Khawaja, 3 Steve Smith (capt), 4 George Bailey, 5 Mitchell Marsh, 6 Travis Head, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 John Hastings, 9 Adam Zampa, 10 and 11 Chris Tremain/Scott Boland/Daniel Worrall/Joe Mennie

Pitch and conditions

A cold front early in the week brought rain to Cape Town on Tuesday, but Newlands has a new drainage system which should keep the outfield dry should the rain stay away. Groundsman Evan Flint does not predict a run-fest, instead aiming for a surface that will offer the bowlers something as well. The weather is expected to be mild with temperatures in the teens, with a light breeze.

Stats and trivia

  • Australia have never lost all of the matches in a five-game ODI series. The last time they lost all the matches played in an ODI series was in 2006-07 when they were beaten 3-0 by New Zealand. The only other time they were blanked 3-0 was by England, in 1997

  • South Africa have beaten Australia 4-1 before, in a series in Australia in 2009

Quotes

"If you play against Australia, every little mental thing you can get on your side does play a role. It's important for everyone to be in good touch. The one-percenters play a big role."
Although Faf du Plessis acknowledges that changing formats may not allow South Africa to take much momentum from the ODIs into the Tests, he hopes it can give them a slight mental edge