South Africa and Australia have faced off in six Tests, four Twenty20 internationals and nine ODIs over the past four months. The end is in sight.
However, the final match is a dead rubber after South Africa wrapped up the series in Port Elizabeth and the best Australia can hope for is a victory that would give them some momentum heading to the UAE to take on Pakistan. South Africa have a 7-2 advantage in the nine ODIs this year and have deservedly retained the No. 1 one-day ranking. Australia have slipped so far that they now sit third behind India, although victory in Johannesburg would bump them back up to second.
Cricinfo reports that the Wanderers will bring back incredible memories for both teams and anyone who watched the previous ODI between the sides at the venue. It was March 2006. It was the decider for a series locked 2-2. Australia posted 434 for 4 – the first time any team had passed 400 in a one-day international. Their new record stood for only a few hours as South Africa defied all expectations to chase down the total and finished with 438 for 9 when Mark Boucher slammed a boundary off Brett Lee to win with a ball to spare. It’s too much to ask for a repeat, or anything close to it, but a tight, hard-fought match would be an appropriate way to end this long and competitive summer.
Form guide (last five ODIs, most recent first)
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On his day, Herschelle Gibbs is the most dangerous batsman in South Africa’s side. He had one such day three years ago, when his 175 from 111 balls made their total of 438 a possibility. He had another triumph on Monday, when he scored his 21st ODI century to set up another South African series victory in Port Elizabeth. The combination of an in-form Gibbs and a match at the Wanderers should sound alarm bells for Australia.
Australia’s leading run scorer during the series has been Brad Haddin, who has looked more comfortable in the opening role than his partner Michael Clarke. A powerful top-order striker, Haddin has made two half-centuries during the series and with Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh both waiting for their opportunities to arrive in the UAE from next week, he will be keen to put one last stamp on the opening position before it once again becomes a wrestle for the job.
South Africa have decided to rest Johan Botha after his bowling action was reported by the umpires in the previous game and he is likely to head to Perth in the coming days to undergo testing. Wayne Parnell has also been left out after struggling in the past two matches to recapture the brilliant form he displayed in collecting 4 for 25 in Centurion. But the attack won’t be significantly weakened with Makhaya Ntini and Morne Morkel named as the replacements.
South Africa 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Herschelle Gibbs, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Roelof van der Merwe, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Albie Morkel, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Makhaya Ntini.
Australia could have used the dead rubber to throw an opportunity to their unused members of the squad but Marcus North and Cameron White will remain drinks-waiters at the Wanderers. Neither man is in the touring party for the Pakistan series, which starts next week. Ben Laughlin is in that group and for the Johannesburg match has replaced Shane Harwood, who has resumed training with the Rajasthan Royals after his brief flirt with ODI cricket. “We feel with Ben Laughlin being in our squad for Dubai as well as Stuart Clark, this would be a good opportunity for Ben to have another good solid hit-out,” Ricky Ponting said. “Stuart has been here for a few days and he has got a bit of bowling under his belt. But we have decided to go with Ben ahead of him for this game.”
Australia 1 Brad Haddin (wk), 2 Michael Clarke, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 David Hussey, 5 Michael Hussey, 6 Callum Ferguson, 7 James Hopes, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Nathan Bracken, 11 Ben Laughlin.
Stats and Trivia
Between the two sides, ten men who played in the 438 match will take the field on Friday – four from Australia and six from South Africa
The two highest scorers from each team in that game – Gibbs, Graeme Smith, Ponting and Michael Hussey – will all be part of the rematch
It’s often assumed that Mick Lewis had the worst economy rate in that match as his ten overs cost 113 but in fact the honour belongs to Jacques Kallis, who bowled six overs for 70 – or 11.66 runs per over
Gibbs needs 44 runs to become the second South African after Kallis to reach the 8000 figure in ODIsTweet