Australia v South Africa, tri-series final, Harare September 5, 2014

Morkel and Duminy in doubt for final


Match facts

Saturday, September 6, 2014
Start time 0930 local (0730GMT)

Big picture

The triangular series in Zimbabwe was always expected come down to this: a final between Australia and South Africa. Zimbabwe's outside chance of acquiring the desired set of results to make the final only existed when they upset Australia, but it was immediately burnt out by South Africa. AB de Villiers' men may well be considered favourites, but they will be wary of the fact that their only defeat in this series came against the team they will play in the final.

South Africa lost on Tuesday in a manner they have so often done before - chasing and stumbling. They had patched the holes by Thursday against Zimbabwe, but may find themselves without one of the men who added the muscle. JP Duminy's injury could create softness in the line-up again, because Rilee Rossouw is still new to international cricket and David Miller is battling for form.

Australia know all about South Africa's marshmallow middle, having roasted it many times before. They will look to exploit that as well as South Africa's absence of a death-bowling plan. Australia, however, have areas of their own game to look at. Their batsmen have appeared vulnerable, particularly when the surface lacks pace, and their dependence on their main bowlers was obvious in their two losses.

Where there are areas of concern, there are also opportunities and both teams have players looking to cash in. South Africa's openers and pace pack have gone quiet and may be clearing their throats. If they use any reserves, they will know a big performance against Australia could go a long way towards securing a World Cup spot.

Australia's line-up also has candidates with points to prove. Phillip Hughes may want to do more after scoring successive double-centuries recently for Australia A. Those knocks earned Hughes a recall to ODIs, but while promising, he has not been particularly explosive. Mitchell Starc, who has already had much success in the series, could firm-up his place in the XI and Steven Smith will want to live up to Michael Clarke's lofty praise.

But at the end of it, the individuals' aims will be forced into the wings and the team goals will take center stage. This trophy is not about preparing for South Africa's tour to Australia later this year, or the World Cup. Few teams use one bilateral series to get ready for another, and the conditions in Harare are completely different to the ones in Australia and New Zealand. This trophy is all about bragging rights, and who does not want that?

Form guide

(last five completed games most recent first)
Australia WLLWW
South Africa WLWWW

In the spotlight

Apart from breaking Ryan McLaren's arm, Mitchell Johnson has not proved as destructive as usual. He has taken just three wickets in the tournament so far, and though two of them were against South Africa, sluggish surfaces have blunted his poisoned tip. On a fresh pitch with more life and with a trophy to play for, he will be a different prospect and that's just what South Africa will be bracing for in the final.

There is little that can be done to stop Faf du Plessis when he is the mood to hang around, and Australia have learnt that across different formats. With three centuries in the tournament - which are also the first three of his ODI career - du Plessis is in the form of his life. He has done everything from anchor to lead final assaults, and will want nothing more than to end the series as a champion.

Team news

The XI that beat South Africa four days before the final would seem the obvious choice for Australia, unless Kane Richardson does not recover from a side soreness in time. A final call on him will be taken in the morning and if he is ruled out, James Faulkner will replace him.

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

Morne Morkel and Duminy will undergo late fitness tests to determine their availability. Morkel has a rotator cuff tear, while Duminy has a knee niggle. Should neither play, Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw will be included in the XI. If both are fit, South Africa will have to decide between Rossouw as an extra batsman, or whether they want two spinners, in which case Wayne Parnell will play in the allrounder's position.

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

Pitch and conditions

Instead of recycling one of the surfaces already used in the six matches of this series, the groundsmen have prepared a completely new strip in the middle of the square. They expect it to have more bounce and carry than has been on offer thus far, which will come as a relief to both sides whose pace packs may finally be able to come into play. Cooler weather has taken root in Harare and there is a 40% chance of a drizzle under cloudy skies.

Stats and trivia

  • Du Plessis has now gone 100 international innings without registering a duck

  • Mitchell Marsh has hit Dale Steyn and Ryan Mclaren for three sixes each in the series. Neither have been hit for a single six by any other batsman in the tournament.


    "They obviously fielded a bit of a different side yesterday, going in with just the five bowlers, which I'd be surprised if they did against us. I think they'll have to pick another bowler, which hopefully will leave their batting a little thin, if we can get a couple of early wickets and try and get into the middle to late order."
    Australia captain George Bailey

    "It's a great test for us. We lost to them in the last game so we'd like to fix things. It's a great opportunity to go one-up on them before we go into that all-important series before the World Cup in Australia."

    South Africa captain AB de Villiers

    Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

  • Comments have now been closed for this article

    • Lindsay on September 6, 2014, 16:02 GMT

      So Duminy scored more runs than Miller. So what. That is why SA will never win a T20 or ODI world cup. It is not who scored the most runs. It is who won the most matches on their own. Miller can win a match on his own. Duminy cannot. So what if Miller fails often. When he comes off he wins matches on his own. Albie Morkel is not in the team. It is also a big mistake. He fails often, but when he comes off he wins matches single-handedly. Years ago, Gibbs was also dropped from SA team because he failed often, but he won many matches for SA all on his own. That is what counts in odi's. Duminy has never won a match on his own, and has been around many years. In tests, number of runs count but in odi's match winning innings count. SA must change their selection policy to choose players that can win matches, just like India and West Indies do.

    • AMAR on September 6, 2014, 7:16 GMT

      another tittle waiting for aussies.if any one tell me if australia win final then he return no. 1 ranking in odi or not?

    • James on September 6, 2014, 7:10 GMT

      My goodness. I don't think we have battted second in any of the games played in this tournament!

    • Abhijith on September 6, 2014, 7:08 GMT

      Both sides look pretty similar.It will be a tough game. 1)Both have quality fast bowlers. 2)All round spinner in Steve Smith and Duminy on the other side. 3)Match winning captains in De Villiers and Bailey. 4)One day specialists in Hashim Amla and on the other side Aaron Finch. 5)Australia have a good fast bowling allrounder in Marsh which South Africa are missing in McLaren who is inhured. 6)Swashbuckling batsmen in a Miller and a Maxwell. 7)Nathan Lyon and Imran Tahir to boost the spin department.

      It will definitely be a thriller but it all depends on the batting and South Africa might win on that given the form of Du Plessis, De villiers and the experience of Amla with the new ODI entrant De Kock.

    • Dummy4 on September 6, 2014, 6:18 GMT

      Sticking my neck out to say that 260 may not be chased down here, esp by SA. That said, I'm looking fwd to SA batting first.

    • Lou on September 6, 2014, 6:12 GMT

      onlinegamer, are you related to Hughes? You are aware that he and Marsh are not in competition for the same spots in the squad, aren't you? One is an all-rounder, big-hitting finisher and the other is an opener.

    • Shashank on September 6, 2014, 5:31 GMT

      Simple logic for both teams win the toss & choose to ball first (as much as we saw in previous matches). Chasing sides are always have upper hand in SC type pitches. But this match will be going to play on a fresh & new turf so how should the pitch react nobody knows. I think 290-315 runs are enough on this type of slow pitches IMO bt bowling wise Oz bowler's are much better in comparison of SA's (esp. in death overs). All odds are in favour with Australia waiting for a thriller.

    • yogesh on September 6, 2014, 4:54 GMT

      Should be a good final. As both teams are evenly matched. The team that bowls well in the depth and bat well will win.Key will be between the bowling and batting of both sides. The contest will be between Johnson and Steyn.

    • Sathesh Krishnan on September 6, 2014, 4:27 GMT

      It is obvious that Miller hasnt performed upto his potential so far. but when it clicks and he plays like Bailey or Marsh its gonna make massive difference to SA batting unit and also they will win this final quite easily. But there is no point in imagining until he performs. Meanwhile if it clicks for DeKock, Amla and AB today then its SA all the way. Its going to be a cracker of a contest and SA could go all the way if batting unit performs collectively.

    • Online on September 6, 2014, 4:17 GMT

      "Hughes may want to do more" What more does this poor kid have to do? Frankly, I was annoyed with Mitch Marsh's 86 odd the other day; while I'm happy for Marsh it has overshadowed Hughes' setting up of the innings which was crucial for Australia winning the match. Even when Hughes was involved in that record-breaking 11th wicket partnership with Agar, his innings was overshadowed by Agar. It's extremely unfair. Hughes has performed fantastically in this series with one fifty and one eighty in three knocks and ending the series with a big score (which I'm sure he will) should put him firmly ahead of the likes of Maxwell and Marsh. All M. Marsh has to do (thanks to his surname) is get lucky with a big score once in a while and everyone gets excited while Hughes is CONSISTENT, scores big time and time again unlike Marsh. Hughes should be ahead of Marsh after this series.

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