Australia v South Africa, Tri-series, Harare August 26, 2014

ODI equals seek bragging rights


Match facts

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Start time 0930 local (0730 GMT)

Big Picture

Finally, some competition.

Do not pretend that you have not been thinking it, even though you may feel uncomfortable about how it reflects on what you think of the hosts of this series. The reality is that Zimbabwe's ability to stay in a contest, which started promisingly in the one-off Test against South Africa, has been almost non-existent in the one-dayers, and the only way this tournament was likely to grab some attention is if there was something to liven it up. Luckily, South Africa and Australia could do that just by being in the same room.

The countries are old rivals, but also good friends. They may have bones to pick with each other, but will share beverages afterwards. While there is no love lost between them, there is also a lot of mutual respect. Although they are tussling over a trophy few will even remember in months to come, the two teams will not be going easy on each other as they look to claim early bragging rights ahead of the World Cup.

Recent ODI history favours South Africa, who have won three of the last four series between these two teams. However, Australia have had the upper hand in other formats and their current ascendancy makes this contest too close to call. By next Saturday, we may have a different answer.

Since Zimbabwe's chances of appearing in the final are minimal, South Africa and Australia have two potential rehearsals before the big day.

Form guide

(last five completed games, most recent first)

Australia WWLWW
South Africa WWWWL

In the spotlight

Glenn Maxwell's brutal hitting has been on display against Pakistan, West Indies, India, England and Zimbabwe, but he has not had the opportunity to see if he can pull the same off against a South African ODI attack. Maxwell has shown a disregard for reputation, which South Africa are aware of. So instead of getting scared, the likes of Dale Steyn might be fired up to get under the batsman's skin.

Scores of 7, 21 and 1 in Zimbabwe over the last three weeks have left AB de Villiers flying under the radar on this trip. After being rested from the final ODI against Zimbabwe, the South Africa captain will be keen to show he is ready to lead from the front against the top-ranked team in the world. De Villiers is usually a man for the big occasion and would likely regard a match against Australia as the perfect time to up the ante.

Team news

Michael Clarke will only make an appearance at the "back-end," of the tri-series, according to George Bailey, so Mitchell Marsh could keep his spot at No.3. The Aaron Finch-Brad Haddin opening partnership worked well in the tournament opener, so Phil Hughes may still have to wait for his turn. The only debate that remains is whether Ben Cutting should get a chance or if the left-hand heavy attack will continue.

Australia: 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 George Bailey (capt), 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Steve Smith, 7 James Faulkner, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Kane Richardson, 10 Mitchell Starc/Ben Cutting, 11 Nathan Lyon

South Africa will welcome back their premier pacemen Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, who will replace Kyle Abbott and Mthokozisi Shezi respectively. With Vernon Philander out of the series, Wayne Parnell is likely to get the nod ahead of the other reserve seamer Kyle Abbott. Hashim Amla is also expected back at the top of the order, as is the captain de Villiers. Aaron Phangiso performed well when given an opportunity in the third ODI, and he may retain his place ahead of Imran Tahir.

South Africa: 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir/Aaron Phangiso

Pitch and conditions

Zimbabwe's ground staff have done their best to dehydrate the surfaces as much as possible to avoid handing any further advantage to the pace attacks the hosts might face this winter. However, since the home team is not involved in this fixture, they may turn the taps on. But even if they don't, Harare's surface has traditionally always had something in it for the bowlers early on. There may be some sparks flying as the two old frenemies kick off their contest, but there should also be plenty of runs to be scored in the summer sunshine.

Stats and trivia

  • The head-to-head record between Australia and South Africa is much closer than what both teams have against Zimbabwe. Of the 80 ODIs played between the two teams, Australia have won 41 and South Africa 36.

  • Australia and South Africa have been involved in six tri-series together of which Australia have won four and South Africa, one. India was the other team to prevail in a three-team series featuring Australia and South Africa.


    "Any time that we can perform really well without him in the team I think it bodes well because we know how strong we're going to be when he does get right and he comes back in."

    Australia's stand-in captain George Bailey says it's important the team does not rely too heavily on Michael Clarke

    "This is the pinnacle of cricket, you want to play against the best in the world. Australia are number one in the world and play a good brand of cricket but they also haven't played much in the last few months. We probably do have the advantage in terms of match practice."

    Although Australia did not look like a team who had spent six months with their feet up, JP Duminy still thinks South Africa have an edge

    Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

  • Comments have now been closed for this article

    • andrews on August 27, 2014, 8:33 GMT

      Swan draught, I would have thought Warner would have been a real option as next captain. Xtrafalgar, you mention Harris and then say don't change the side. What about Harris for the World Cup if fit and firing? I'm losing patience with Starc.

    • Graham on August 27, 2014, 8:21 GMT

      Xtrafalgarx: Like your team however I think death bowling is a weakness and I would consider Richardson for Faulkner. As good as Faulkners batting is we really shouldn't need it that often.

    • Dummy4 on August 27, 2014, 7:32 GMT

      Excited to see how AB and Amla responding to Australian pace attack.

    • James on August 27, 2014, 7:31 GMT

      @Dunger.bob and @Swan_Draught: Yes, Smith is a good cricketer and is likely to improve, and he does look like the likely replacement for Clarke. However, there is plenty of time for him to improve AFTER the world cup. What's the rush? All these guys, M. Marsh, S. Smith, K. Richardson could well be big parts of the ODI side in due course, but for the world cup it's best to go with our coolest and most experienced heads, and Clarke is part of that.

      I understand your concerns about him, but he along with Bailey have been the rock in our batting line up. They have been the guys that have ensured that the flair of Finch, Warner, Maxwell and co. don't go to waste. They give us grit and substance to go with flair. Throwing away over 200 ODI caps for a gamble that might pay off is too big a risk ahead of a once in a lifetime opportunity to win a cup on home soil.

    • James on August 27, 2014, 7:22 GMT

      @Rickyvoncanterbury: Finch, Warner, Watson, Clarke, Bailey, Maxwell, Haddin, Faulkner, Johnson, Starc, Lyon/Doherty. For me it's that simple, that's our first XI. We are making things more difficult than they have to be.

    • ESPN on August 27, 2014, 7:20 GMT

      This is just a wee taster for the real series between these two in Australia in November. As these conditions are no where near what the WC conditions will be like , so even if Aus win by 100 runs or SA win by 100 it's not really going to tell the whole story , although I'm expecting a tough evenly matched contest that is likely to be decided by who bowls better at the depth. Let this ever great rivalry start once again and let the best team win.

    • Dummy4 on August 27, 2014, 7:18 GMT

      @andrew-schulz: I will never forget that tri series that marked the end of Steve Waugh's ODI career. Of course, the major problem for the Australians was the continued failure of both Mark and Steve Waugh in the league phase.

    • richard on August 27, 2014, 7:09 GMT

      @dunger.bob your not alone mate, but when the hate mail comes in your on your own.

    • andrews on August 27, 2014, 6:54 GMT

      The other stat about this game is that whoever wins will have the best win ratio in the history of ODI cricket. These two have been swapping that title since the champions trophy of 2004, though Australia had established a bit of a lead before some easy recent opposition for South Africa. On the negative side, how can we possibly have this bonus point system back? It won't matter this time, but can anyone remember NZ deliberately conceding a bonus point to keep Australia out of the finals in 2002? It is ridiculous. Any bonus point for the winning side MUST have a corresponding penalty for the losing side.

    • rob on August 27, 2014, 6:53 GMT

      To be perfectly and absolutely honest, I'm finding it hard to justify a place for the captain. The one that's currently injured, not the one that led us in the game against Zim. .. I've heard some people say that he should be in for his captaincy skills alone but I'm not so sure about that in the shorter formats. Bailey seems quite competent to me and the boys seem to play well under him.

      That's probably sacrilege in some peoples eyes but it's been gnawing away at me for a while now. I was just wondering if I'm a lone voice in having that suspicion?

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