Ed Hawkins previews game two from Adelaide early on Friday as the hosts look to end their awful sequence
"In the last two years Australia have fielded first 10 times. They have lost eight"
Australia v South Africa
Friday 9 November 03.20
TV: live on Sky Sports
Marsh comes in for Aussies
Australia are struggling. Prior to losing to South Africa in Perth - confirming a record losing sequence - they had decided not to giveMitchell Starc opening duties. Such muddled decision-making is an insight into the fear and panic which has taken hold.
Sport is pretty simple sometimes. If you want to win, pick your best players in their best roles. Starc is certainly that. When fit and firing he has few rivals with new ball in ODI. Nathan Coulter-Nile, who is no slouch admittedly, will have to bide his time.
There has been some tinkering in the aftermath. Australia have called up Ben McDermott, a middle-order slugger. He might not play, though, with Shaun Marsh expected to bat at No 3 following injury. D'Arcy Short makes way. Marsh has more subtleties to his game than both.
Another clue if Australia are thinking clearly is if they pick Adam Zampa. Leg spin would seem a crucial weapon in an otherwise pace-heavy attack.
Saffers pace attack strong
South Africa are strutting about the place, barely able to believe what was presented to them at the Optus Stadium. Australia were a disorganised rabble who the visitors had no qualms about stamping down.
It didn't take long. Just shy of six overs, in fact. Australia had lost three wickets and scored only eight. The game was up. It perfectly highlighted South Africa's strength in this series - pace.
Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi are a terrific trio. In Perth, Steyn and Ngidi shared four wickets and although Rabada went wicketless, he's unlikely to be quiet for long.
In bowling out Australia for 152, South Africa were also able to benefit from boosting their batters' confidence. Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks and Aiden Markram all got a score of sorts. That's important because we could hardly claim this is a powerhouse line-up. There is no Hashim Amla or JP Duminy and the sight of Steyn at No 8 is ODI cricket 1990s style.
Bat first teams needs 275 minimum
There have been seven day-night matches at Adelaide in the last five years. The first-innings scores read (1-2 denote won by team batting first/second): 196-2/369-1/213-2/237-2/275-1/300-1/217-1. The target, then, for the team batting first should be 275. As you can see there is no toss bias either way. And that 'trend' holds over the entire study period for matches under lights at the venue.
Horrible hosts price
Australia are [1.78] and South Africa are [2.24]. That price about the home side, who have lost seven in a row, pongs more than a prawn which fell under the floorboards at last Christmas's cocktail starter.
Perhaps the theory is that Australia cannot lose eight in a row. The old law of averages. And that's fine. We get that. They're probably not bad enough to lose eight on the spin. But betting doesn't work like that.
We have to take the odds in isolation. So, are Australia really a [1.78] shot? No, of course not. Their batting is low on confidence. Likewise their plans and preparation. There's also the not insignificant issue of what happens when they have to chase.
In the last two years Australia have fielded first 10 times. They have lost eight. The targets they failed to get to read: 482-343-260-303-253-164-282-287. It would seem that the smart money will be on the Saffers batting first.
Head and shoulders
Travis Head is on his home ground and that is significant. It brings the best out of him. Head has 224 runs in two ODI there. The rest of his team-mates have moderate returns. Head is 4/1 with Betfair Sportsbook for top Aussie bat. Aaron Finch, the jolly, is 11/4 but he is having a shocking run of scores.
No faffing about
De Kock is the 16/5 favourite for top South Africa runscorer followed by Hendricks and Markram at 7/2 respectively (all Betfair Sportsbook). We have a soft spot for Faf Du Plessis, however, at 4s because we feel at some stage in the series South Africa are going to need his calm assurance.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Back South Africa bat first 2.2 or better (2pts)