Ed Hawkins previes the contest from perth in the early hours of Sunday and examines the home team's terrible recent record...
"Australia have lost their last five series and won two of their last 20 matches. They are also a side to avoid when chasing"
Australia v South Africa
Sunday 4 November 03.20
TV: live on Sky Sports
Aussies still in a state
Australia's chastening tour of the UAE is over. They returned without a win to their name. Meanwhile, the players' bosses were being carpeted for a culture of arrogance which led to the ball-tampering scandal against these opponents.
Steve Smith and David Warner remain unavailable so Australia continue to look dishevelled. Aaron Finch is the newly-appointed skipper, taking over from Tin Paine who has been dropped from the squad. Alex Carey is the vice-captain and gloveman.
Finch aside, the batting has been unreliable. Chris Lynn has yet to prove he can transform T20 thuggery onto a more nuanced stage and Glenn Maxwell is a conundrum. There are also question marks over D'Arcy Short and Marcus Stoinis at this level.
There is nothing wrong with the pace attack, though. Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood are a class apart and it is entirely possible that these three win Australia the series on their own.
Runs worries for tourists
South Africa's tour got off to a sloppy start with defeat by a Prime Minister's XI in Canberra. They managed only 173 batting first and there have to be serious doubts about their batting line-up going forward.
There is no Hashim Amla or JP Duminy and as a result the top order has a brittle look about it. Aiden Markram, Reeza Hendricks and David Miller, who is taking his sweet time, have not established themselves yet. There is much pressure on Quinton De Kock and Faf Du Plessis.
Indeed, anyone who saw their line-up in that opening loss would have been alarmed to see Dale Steyn batting at No 8. This more than hints at where South Africa's strength lies. Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi match up well against the Aussie pacers while in Imran Tahir they have the one world-class spinner on show.
Pitch may help bowlers
There's not a huge amount of ground form to go on for this one. There has been only one ODI played at the Optus Stadium, replacement for the missed Waca. England beat Australia by 12 runs last year. It was a tight game with England, rather surprisingly, defending 260. In two JLT Cup matches this year, runscoring has proved tricky for the side batting first. New South Wales and South Australia could manage only 204 and 237 respectively against Western Australia, who chased with ease in both matches.
Awful record laid bare
Australia are [1.69] to win game one. This is not a good price about a team on an awful run, as described here in our statistical preview of the series.
In short, though, Australia have lost their last five series and won two of their last 20 matches. They are also a side to avoid when chasing. They have chased ten times (completed matches) in the last two years and lost eight. This is compared to nine defeats from 16 batting first.
South Africa are [2.40]. It would be wrong for us to make out they are world beaters. Their form is significantly better although 11 wins have been against one team (Sri Lanka) in the last two years. Still, we can't have Australia at those odds. We might play at [1.80] but it seems impossible to make a case for them with their record as it is.
Marsh catches eye
In the absence of Smith and Warner Finch has shouldered responsibility. He tops the run charts with 438 runs from eight in the last 12 months. Travis Head is the next best with 324 in nine. Finch is 13/5 with Betfair Sportsbook to top score for Australia with Sportsbook and Head 7/2. Shaun Marsh is probably the value, though. He has 186 runs in five innings in the study period. The 9/2 could well be worth a nibble. A mention too for Carey at 6s.
Count on Du Plessis
Amla has scored the bulk of South Africa runs in recent years so De Kock will be expected to maintain his reputation as one of the best openers in the format. He is the 11/4 favourite for top SA bat. Du Plessis, however, is solid and reliable and against a good pace attack those are qualities which appeal. The 9/2 offered looks good.
Back South Africa batting first [2.4] (1pt)