After successfully backing the tourists to win the opener, Ed Hawkins previews Friday's clash in Melbourne and reiterates that two experimental sides are as strong, or weak, as each other...
"There is no evidence whatsoever that Australia should be so short in the betting, particularly as this could be a shoot-out between the pacemen."
Back South Africa at 2.56/4
Australia v South Africa
Start time: 08.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
The hosts were comfortably beaten in the opener in Adelaide after they could only muster a below-par 144. Cameron White and Aaron Finch had got the Aussies off to a reasonably quick start but when Finch lost his wicket South Africa were able to turn the screw.
They were nagging in line and length and Australia were only able to break free when James Faulkner chanced his arm. Without his 33-ball 41 they could have been in a dreadful hole. Shane Watson, batting at No 3, will be pleased with his fluent 47 and he should continue to turn in good performances after an extended - and much-needed - rest.
South Africa won with a ball to spare in a very impressive performance. They were tight in the field and were rapid with the bat, recovering from the loss of their first wicket without a run on the board. With the ball, Kyle Abbot was extremely impressive going for no more than 5.25 an over. JP Duminy, the skipper, managed two overs for just eight.
The tourists would have been disappointed that Ryan McLaren, their experienced allrounder, was expensive at nine a pop. The highly-rated Rilee Rossouw's 50-ball 78 saw them home while Quinton de Kock, South Africa's Mr Reliable, hit 46. A possible change could be Marchant de Lang for Kagiso Rabada after the youngster was targeted.
There have been seven T20 internationals played at the MCG. The first-innings average is 136 and it won't be a surprise to read that 150 has been breached just twice. Those numbers are consistent with the MCG's reputation as a ground which assists the bowlers. And seamers at that. A spinner does not get near the top ten wicket-takers. In last season's Big Bash the first-innings scores were: 208-90-131-161-141.
Before the first Twenty20 we banged on and on about the need for gamblers to recognise that Australia were bad favourites. We are back on the soap box for game two with the hosts skinny again at 1.654/6. South Africa are 2.56/4.
It was not that we thought Australia were a bad team, that they were an unhappy camp or that South Africa were too strong. It was simply that the odds said there was a huge gulf between the sides which did not, and patently does not, exist.
So with the gap still in existence it is an absolute no brainer to bet South Africa. No doubt there will be people out there who will reckon Australia can hit back. And they may well do. But you would need your head read if you took them at such a scandalous price.
There is no difference between these two experimental sides and we would make this a choice affair. There is no evidence whatsoever that Australia should be so short in the betting, particularly as this could be a shoot-out between the pacemen.
In Pat Cummins and Doug Bollinger Australia have a duo who could damage an experimental Saffers side. In Abbott and Wayne Parnell South Africa have a duo who could damage an experimental Aussie side. You see, even steven.
If you cannot spot why South Africa are the value, then please never bet again. By the way, if the odds were the other way round, we'd be betting Australia.
Top Australia runscorer
Cameron White, opening the batting with Finch and on his home patch, top scored last time out at the 'G with a half-ton against England. Finch averages 35 there with 106 runs from four innings. Both men will go off around 3.7511/4.
Top South Africa runscorer
JP Duminy top scored with 78 when South Africa were beaten in a T20 by Australia at the 'G in 2009. He also hit an inspired 166 in South Africa's famous Test win a year earlier. Further evidence that he loves the venue comes in the form of the 71 he made in an ODI. He should be a 5.04/1 chance but the 4.03/1 currently available is too short. Shame.
Back South Africa 2.56/4
Ed Hawkins 2014 P/L
2013: +250.80 (ROI 25%)
To £10 level stakes