Australia’s one-day cricket hasn’t been at a standard known to the world over the past few months and seeking to rectify that, a confident Ricky Ponting won the toss and elected to bat on what appeared to be a flat Kingsmead pitch. A fit-again Graeme Smith didn’t seem to disappointed at losing the toss but with Australia so hungry to take back the No. 1 ranking, he will hope his attack can contain the opposition.
Australia handed a debut to Ben Laughlin and included the spinner Nathan Hauritz. With four games to play in South Africa, the deciosion to field Laughlin ahead of Shane Harwood or Brett Geeves was motivated purely by Australia’s rotational selection policy.
With Jacques Kallis injured South Africa went in with four fast bowlers. Although the surface, once again, and a muggy atmosphere are bound to suit the fast bowlers spin should play a role here. Johan Botha and JP Duminy have been tidy in recent ODIs against Australia and Smith will expect more from them.
With the dust just starting to settle after such an engrossing and thrilling Test series, the format has changed and with it the respective roles of the two sides. South Africa are the No. 1 one-day international team in the world but that is up for grabs for Australia.
Australia have beaten South Africa four times in ODIs in Durban; South Africa have triumphed over Australia twice.
Australia: 1 Michael Clarke, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 David Hussey, 6 Callum Ferguson, 7 James Hopes, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Nathan Bracken, 11 Ben Laughlin.
South Africa 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Herschelle Gibbs, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Mark Boucher (wk), 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Morne Morkel, 9 Johan Botha, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Makhaya Ntini.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo