Ed Hawkins previews the series finale from Newlands on Wednesday and says the toss is key
"We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; South Africa are only worth following if they defend. Their chasing record remains poor (three wins in last ten)"
South Africa v Australia
Wednesday 26 February, 16:00
Live on Sky Sports
South Africa show strength
South Africa took the series to a decider thanks to a nerveless and accomplished bowling display. It's their strength and on helpful wickets, they are a significant threat.
Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada combined at the death to deny Australia, who felt they should have won. Defending 158, the hosts looked in trouble at 124 for two in the 16th but with Ngidi removing Alex Carey and Tabraiz Shamsi in mean and magnificent mood, it was never a formality.
Earlier Quinton de Kock had smashed 70 off 47 and only he and Rassie van der Dussen were able to find impressive fluency. Reeza Hendricks, returned to the squad with Temba Bavuma injured, struggled but he should hold on to his spot. They will also make a call on Anrich Nortje or Dale Steyn and one from Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phelukwayo and JJ Smuts.
Probable XI De Kock, Hendricks, Du Plessis, Van der Dussen, Miller, Van Biljon, Pretorius, Steyn, Shamsi, Ngidi, Rabada
Australia building well
Australia lost for the first time in nine at Port Elizabeth. It's not the sort of loss which they should be too concerned about, though. South Africa bowled superbly. And that is allowed.
David Warner, set and marshalling the chase, couldn't get going and his unbeaten 67 off 56 looks weak in the cold light of day. That's probably unfair as the wicket seemed to slow up, as possibly proved by the procession of wickets.
Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade and Ashton Agar were supposed to come in and finish the job but all found it beyond them. Their three wickets combined for only eight runs off 15 balls. A calamitous sequence given the 12-run margin of defeat.
Australia would have probably rested one from Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc if the series was won. They might still do that with Jhye Richardson in need of a game.
Probable XI Finch, Warner, Smith, Wade, Marsh, Carey, Agar, Cummins, Starc, Zampa, K Richardson
Toss bias reversed
The Newlands toss bias in ODI is reversed in T20. Whereas you would have to be slightly bonkers to chase under lights in 50-overs, there's no problem in the shorter format. Seven from 12 have been won by the chaser with one tie. South Africa have a poor record, winning only four of 11.
As for innings runs, 160 would appear to be a minimum given run rates (all conditions) in the past three years - 7.9 last year, 7.8 in 2018 and 8.3 in 2017. In those 12 matches under lights, 150 has been busted 50% of the time. The first-innings scores in the Mzansi Super League (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second, most recent first) last year read: 173-1/157-1/181-2/163-1/183-1.
We'll be looking for decent numbers on Australia for more than 170, 180 and 190. When batting first in the last two years they have an average RPO of 9.5. There is no rain forecast so worries about rain reducing overs are, at this stage, unfounded.
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Saffers need to defend
We've said it before and we'll say it again; South Africa are only worth following if they defend. Their chasing record remains poor (three wins in last ten) and putting a side under scoreboard pressure is perfect for their strongest suit.
They are likely to get a sweat on if Australia have the opportunity to bat first on a flat track. The 4/71.59 could disappear pretty quickly. Therefore the smart money is a trade on the Saffers batting first and squeezing. A score of 165-170 gets them in the game and, like at PE, there should movement in that price of 13/82.66.
Van der Dussen catches eye
Van der Dussen has an eye-catching record at Newlands. In ten matches, he has an average of 41 including three fifties. Sportsbook rate him a 9/2 chance to top score for South Africa. De Kock is the 15/8 jolly with an average of 29. Hendricks, who averages 33, is 7/2.
There's not much between Australia's top three for top bat; Warner is 5/2 and Aaron Finch and Steve Smith 11/4.
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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Australia 170 or more first-innings runs @ 10/111.91 or better (2pts)