SA v AUS 1st T20I Preview: Cracker on cards as Smith, Warner return to SA first time after ball-tampering fiasco
The return of Faf du Plessis and Kagiso Rabada will further strengthen the Protea unit which gave England a run for their money in the white-ball leg.
Venue - Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Start time - 04:00 PM GMT | 06:00 PM LOCAL
Head to Head record in T20Is - South Africa: 7 Australia: 11 Tied: 0
Weather - Scattered Thunderstorms, 27°C, Precipitation: 50%, Humidity: 57%, Wind: 11 km/h
180 par at the Wanderers
The match will be played at the Wanderers Stadium, the same venue where the last Test and the second ODI was held in the recently-concluded series between England and South Africa. Run scoring was not that easy in the ODI with South Africa managing only 256 runs from their 50 overs. Although England won, they were also eight down.
That said, the average score batting first here is 172 which suggests that it can be a high-scoring game. As far as the toss is concerned, out of the total 26 T20I games played here, the team batting first has won 12 and the one batting second has won 14 - no substantial difference there and you could get some good odds with the William Hill promo code on the match.
Game time for Wade and Marsh
Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis, both of whom were out of the Australian side during the Big Bash League, really stepped it up and put on an exhibition of boundary hitting. While Stoinis still has a problem with his back and is not fit enough to bowl, Maxwell was initially included in both the ODI and T20I squads but will have to miss the tour due to an elbow surgery.
Australia have been missing a dasher in the middle order and Maxwell could have filled that void. In his absence, Matthew Wade and Mitchell Marsh, both of whom did a great job in the Big Bash League, are expected to get a game.
Wade is likely to bat at number 4 and is expected to be the enforcer. Bowling all-rounder Mitchell Marsh will take the role of Marcus Stoinis. He will expect to replicate his BBL success in international cricket and not only hit a couple out of the park but also prove his utility with the ball.
"[Wade] got that hundred in the Big Bash a few weeks ago [against Adelaide] and reminded us all how damaging he can be," head coach Justin Langer said ahead of the series. "And also, on the Australia A tour last year leading up to the Ashes, he scored two hundreds in four innings in one-day cricket.
"He's so dynamic, he plays spin very well, he bats at No.5 for us in the Test side [and] he's very experienced. He'll adjust and we know with a few of our guys, if we need them to open, they can open. But we're looking for those guys to finish the innings for us and we've made no secret of that."
Du Plessis, Rabada bolster Proteas
While Faf du Plessis was given a 'break' during the white-ball leg against England, Kagiso Rabada was genuinely rested. Both the players bring a wealth of experience along with them and will further strengthen the South African side which looked good in the six LOIs against England.
The unavailability of opener Temba Bavuma, due to a hamstring injury, will lead South Africa to make several changes to their playing XI. Henrich Klaasen, who scored an explosive half-century in the last T20 against England, can be promoted to open the batting along with Quinton de Kock.
Faf du Plessis will slot in at his usual position at number 4. Dropping David Miller will be too big a move and he is expected to retain his spot with John John Smuts playing the role of the spinning all-rounder. Kagiso Rabada is expected to take the spot of Dwayne Pretorius and you could get some great odds with the PA Lottery bonus code on Faf du Plessis top scoring in this match.
Spotlight on Smith and Warner
Australia's tour of South Africa will also mark the return of Steve Smith and David Warner to the country for the first time since the sandpaper gate fiasco in March, 2018. The South African crowds are known to be passionate and vocal and hence, they might be in for some pleasantries.
However, the fact that Smith and Warner have already played a lot of cricket since their comeback and have done quite well will come to their aid. They have also been primed in England and the barbs from the crowd may not affect them as much.
"Just walking into the hotel in Sandton, initially I was like, 'the last time I left here it wasn't pretty'. It wasn't the best time in my life. But I've moved on from that and learned a lot," Smith said after landing in South Africa. "The people have been lovely. For me, it doesn't bother me too much. Justin said something the other day about having a dress-rehearsal in England.
"I, honestly, don't notice it particularly when I am batting. It's just words. It doesn't affect me. People want to say things, great, people don't want to say anything, that's great as well. It's their opinion. People want to say things, go for it."
While Warner will continue to open the batting along with skipper Aaron Finch, Steve Smith will bat at three. Smith may not known for his T20I heroics but he seems to have found a way and did a fine job with of a couple of half-centuries against Sri Lanka.
Here's a look at the probable playing XI of both teams:
South Africa - Quinton de Kock (c & wk), Heinrich Klaasen, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, David Miller, Jon-Jon Smuts, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada
Australia - Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson
This is where you can catch all the live action across the globe:
- Australia: Fox Sports
- South Africa: SuperSport
- India & Subcontinent: Sony Network
- Canada: ATN Cricket Plus (Asian Television Network), CBN
- USA: Willow TV, Hotstar
- Malaysia: Astro Cricket HD
- Middle East and North Africa (MENA): OSN Sports Cricket HD
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