Ed Hawkins previews the dead rubber from Potchefstroom on Saturday with the Aussies struggling for form...
"Given where the balance of power lies in the series, we struggle to understand why the hosts have not taken a significant chop for this one. We would expect them to come favourites again"
South Africa v Australia
Saturday 7 March, 08:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Malan makes his mark
South Africa have finally got over the line for a series win in their home summer. Having taken a lead in each format only to squander the advantage, it promised to be a thoroughly deflating period considering player drain and administrative chaos. But there are signs of a bright future.
Specifically Jannie Malan, Heinrich Klaasen and Lungi Ngidi. The trio have combined brilliantly to give the hosts an unassailable lead. Malan notched a brilliant century in Bloemfontein when under significant pressure, Klaasen gave them a 1-0 lead with a fine ton while Ngidi has been the standout bowler in both games. He may finally be recognised as Kagiso Rabada's equal.
The innings by Malan may be of the greatest significance. Early on in his knock, he didn't seem to know where his off stump was. But he showed commendable temperament to tough it out and ended up nerveless in a stiff chase of 271. When Fal Du Plessis and Reeza Hendricks return, South Africa will reckon they have their batting order sorted. That's a decent achievement for the summer.
Don't be surprised if Ngidi, injury prone, sits this one out with Lutho Sipamla given a game. Beuran Hendricks might also come in for Anrich Nortje in a new-look pace attack.
Possible XI Malan, De Kock, Smuts, Verreynne, Klaasen, Miller, Phehlukwayo, Shamsi, Nortje, Sipamla, Mahraj
Australia have had a stinker. They couldn't chase in Paarl. They couldn't defend in Bloemfontein. The latter would have been most disappointing because their much-vaunted attack really should have made South Africa sweat, particularly after removing Quinton de Kock for a duck.
With the series dead, do Australia go all out to avoid a whitewash and pick Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins? Or do they protect them for next week's ODI series against New Zealand. Kane Richardson and Ashton Agar could come in if it's the latter.
The Aussies will at least be buoyed by D'Arcy Short's 69 from No 5 and cameos from Mitch Marsh and Alex Carey. Until Glenn Maxwell is fit, all three need to be on an upward trajectory otherwise they're too relaint on David Warner and Aaron Finch combining for a fast start. The jury is out whether the Smith-Labuschagne combo is too samey.
Probable XI Warner, Finch, Smith, Labuschagne, Short, Marsh, Carey, Agar, Richardson, Zampa, Hazlewood
Cricket Only Bettor 19: The challenge of holding your punting nerve
The first thing to note about Senwes Park is that in day games, it is a chasing venue. Eight from 13, with one tie, have been won by the team fielding first.
But there hasn't been an ODI played there since 2015 when New Zealand beat South Africa by eight wickets going after 204. The previous ODI was in 2010 when South Africa chased 268 against Zimbabwe.
In last year's Momentum Cup, South Africa's domestic one-day tournament, there was one match played at the ground. Lions chased 309 with eight wickets and 18 balls remaining against Titans after 82 from 105 balls from Klaasen. There was a washout in the Lions-Dolphins contest after the hosts had amassed 330. The 2018 scores (1-2 match won by side batting first or second) were: 299-1/253-2.
Can Australia end chasing jinx?
The match odds market remains unconvinced by South Africa, who are priced at 2.8415/8. Australia are 1.528/15. Obviously it's a stinker of a price.
In the first two matches our strategy has been to trade South Africa batting first. So we had no play in Bloemfontein. Given where the balance of power lies in the series, we struggle to understand why the hosts have not taken a significant chop for this one. We would expect them to come favourites again.
It's also worth remembering, despite the toss bias, that Australia have a terrible record chasing on the road: six wins in 18.
Malan has ground form
Malan, who blitzed 82 in a 2018 Momentum Cup game at the venue, is 7/2 (Sportsbook) for a repeat top-bat win for South Africa. De Kock, yet to cop in the series, is 23/10. Klaasen has been pushed out to 6/1.
Warner, like De Kock, has been a disappointment. A score of note has eluded him. He remains at 11/4 for top Aussie but Steve Smith has shortened up to join him. Finch is 10/3 and Short 15/2.
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
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