This series didn't get the David and Goliath stereotype Andy Balbirnie joked about in the lead-up to the first ODI, but it did get another: rain. Only 40.2 overs were possible on Sunday, the 500 spectators that braved the wet weather saw as much cricket as they did rain and there's scant evidence to suggest what this series may hold, except one complete match fewer.
Ireland's batting was steady without being explosive, South Africa's bowling was economical without being particularly incisive, and conditions seemed to reward patience. Both teams had plenty on display but did not have the opportunity to see the results of their efforts because of the wash-out.
The hosts will be pleased with the way William Porterfield and Balbirnie set up the innings and the hitting power of Harry Tector and Mark Adair, while Lungi Ngidi made the biggest impression among the South African pack. After being expensive in the Caribbean, Ngidi seemed to rediscover his control and built pressure at the start of the Irish innings. Andile Phehlukwayo also enjoyed a successful comeback to the national side after warming the bench in the West Indies, and will want to continue to establish himself as the premier seam-bowling allrounder.
The shared points mean South Africa have moved off the bottom of the World Cup Super League and now lie above Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. They will want to pick up all 20 points that remain on offer to jump into the top five and feel more secure about their chances of automatic qualification, however early these days may be.
Ireland have now leapfrogged Netherlands, who beat them in their most recent ODI series, and sit ninth. Any points they can take off South Africa in the next two matches will put them in a strong position ahead of their series against Zimbabwe.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa LWLWW
In the spotlight
Ireland's scoring rate in the first ODI was described as "old-fashioned" by pundits, including Niall O'Brien, and their pedestrian pace will need some acceleration if they are to challenge some of South Africa's big-hitters. For that, they've got George Dockrell. The left-arm-spinner-turned-batter was the top run-scorer in Ireland's Inter-Provincial Limited Over Cup that finished last month. He scored 364 runs in five innings, including four fifties and a hundred, at a strike rate of 87.92, the second highest among the top-10 run-scorers.
Kyle Verreynne was tidy behind the stumps in the first match and even if he has to hand the wicket-keeping gloves back to Quinton de Kock, he will want to grab the opportunity to establish a spot in the middle-order. Verreynne is competing with Heinrich Klaasen as South Africa search for someone who can operate as both a stabiliser for the mid-section of their innings and a finisher. On a ground with small boundaries, Verreynne will have few better opportunities to show his attacking abilities.
William Porterfield returned to open the batting with great success and is likely to be retained in that position. Ireland chose to play Dockrell as a specialist batter and will likely continue to do so, with the option to use him in a two-spinner, three-seam attack.
Ireland: (possible) 1 Paul Stirling, 2 William Porterfield, 3 Andy Balbirnie (capt), 4 Harry Tector, 5 George Dockerell, 6 Lorcan Tucker (wk), 7 Simi Singh, 8 Andy McBrine, 9 Mark Adair, 10 Josh Little, 11 Craig Young
South Africa rested de Kock and Anrich Nortje from the first ODI but may want to bring them back for a crucial match in the series. That would mean Janneman Malan misses out and Keshav Maharaj may have to sit out, with the hope for further opportunities in the T20Is.
South Africa (possible): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Aiden Markram, 3 Temba Bavuma (capt), 4 Rassie van der Dussen, 5 Kyle Verreynne, 6 David Miller, 7 Andile Phehlukwayo, 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Anrich Nortje, 10 Lungi Ngidi, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi
Pitch and conditions
After persistent rain caused Sunday's ODI to wash out, clear skies are expected for Tuesday, which bodes well for a complete game. On the evidence of the overs that were played in the first match, run-scoring was not as free-flowing as South Africa may have hoped with Ireland's run rate hovering below five runs an over. There was plenty of seam movement on offer and with the amount of rain experienced in the last few days, a green-tinged top should see more of the same.
Stats and trivia
- Paul Stirling needs another 164 runs to become the first Ireland player to reach 5,000 ODI runs.
- Andile Phehlukwayo has represented South Africa 100 times across the three formats.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent