Today's cricket News - RSA vs Aus

RSA vs Aus, Potchefstroom

Starts at 01:30 PM IST (08:00 GMT), Mar 07


Quinton de Kock could be forgiven for supporting Australia over India at the MCG on Sunday. The Aussies reaching the T20 WC final guarantees he won't have to deal with Mitchell Starc in the last match of the other Australia team's tour of South Africa - an irrelevant ODI in Potchefstroom on Saturday. The left-arm lethal leader of the visitors' attack has been sent home early to offer first-hand support for his wife, Alyssa Healy, who is likely to open the batting on Sunday.

Starc has clean-bowled de Kock in the first over three times in the five white-ball games the teams have contested in the past two weeks. It was Starc who ran in from long-off to take the catch that ended de Kock's charge at 70 in the second T20I at St George's Park. Only in the first ODI in Paarl was Starc absent from the de Kock dismissal equation. South Africa's captain took a dozen runs, including a crisply driven four through the covers, off the nine balls he faced in Starc's first spell. Only to steer a catch to the wicketkeeper two balls after Josh Hazlewood changed ends to replace Starc. The stroke looked a lot like the kind of error committed by a batter who thinks the storm has passed. Thanks to all that, de Kock has managed only 92 runs in five innings against Australia. In six trips to the crease in the white-ball stuff against England in February, he hammered a century and two 60s among his 318 runs.

Such nuggets of significance are all that's left for those still interested in the series. South Africa's six-wicket win in Bloemfontein on Wednesday, which followed a 74-run success in Paarl, means they have claimed the rubber with a match to spare. Their victory despite de Kock's quietness with the bat will be taken as an important sign that a troubled team have turned a corner. At last, said their supporters, who have seen them fail to win any of the other four series they have played at home this summer - three of them after shading the first match.

Australians will want their team to pull one back, not least because their next engagement is three ODIs against New Zealand, the first at the SCG next Friday. Usually the most clinical finishers in the business, the Aussie batters have suffered from a puzzling lack of competitiveness in the crunch stages of the first two ODIs. They lost 7 for 43 runs in 63 balls in Paarl, which became 6/47 in 44 balls in Bloem. There can be no blaming the conditions, and there shouldn't be on Saturday: Potch smiles on batters, particularly in the shorter formats.

South Africa are likely to empty their bench by giving a game to Beuran Hendricks and Lutho Sipamla, their only players who have yet to feature in the series. Australia could do much the same. Their unused players are also fast bowlers: Jhye Richardson and Kane Richardson.

When: Saturday, March 7, 2020. 10 am Local Time

Where: Senwes Park, Potchefstroom

What to expect: Another flat pitch in another small town on another sunny day. Stop us if you've heard this one before. The series has been played on perhaps the three most comfortable featherbeds in the country, and in front of three of the most engaged - if at times ill-mannered - crowds in South Africa. The variation this time will be plenty of increasingly drunk students. Most will be friendly but expect them to remind Marnus Labuschagne how to say his last name properly.

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