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Australia v South Africa tri-series, Providence – Preview

Having gone down to the West Indies in opener, de Villiers’s men will look to haul campaign back on track

Australia v South Africa tri-series, Providence – Preview - Cricket News
South Africa will look to contain David Warner, who has been in exemplary form.
Before Sunday's (June 5) clash against the West Indies, Australia had last played a One-Day International four months previously. Mitchell Starc, its ace speedster, had been laid low by injury since November. Several players were rusty, but the side still pulled off a commanding six-wicket win over the host in Providence and got its tri-series campaign off to a good start. 

Steve Smith's men, though, will be the first to admit that their performance was far from their best. Australia will need to identify areas for improvement and find the next gear when it takes on South Africa at the same ground on Tuesday, in what will be the second game of the tournament for both teams.  

In Australia's opening game, Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa picked up three wickets each, while Starc impressed on his return with two, as it kept West Indies to 116. However, 14 of those runs were through extras. David Warner then propped up its chase, but some others in the top and middle order would be disappointed in their modest to poor scores.  

“As a bowling unit, we pride ourselves on limited extras. I think we let ourselves down, there was a little bit of rust,” said Lyon, the offspinner, after the game. “But it's one game into a long tri-series, we've got a lot of work to do as a whole unit.”

South Africa too will take comfort in the fact that there's a way to go in the tournament as it attempts to put its opening loss to the West Indies behind it. In that four-wicket defeat, its batsmen failed to capitalise on a good opening stand, losing the last seven wickets for only 28 runs. Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso took 5 for 81 between them, but a total of 188 was never going to be enough against the rampaging Kieron Pollard. 
On challenging batting surfaces, spinners from all teams have enjoyed the conditions on offer, and are likely to again play the lead roles in Tuesday's clash. 

Phangiso, the left-arm spinner, was keen to avoid a Pollard-like repeat against Australia. “[We will] perhaps change up the lengths a little bit. It’s something that we will need to work on with Claude Henderson (spin bowling coach), how to counter a situation when a batsman is being positive and on the attack.”

If there's one positive and attacking batsman South Africa will be wary of, that would be Warner. Warner, fresh off leading Sunrisers Hyderabad to the Indian Premier League 2016 title, extended his remarkable run into the 50-over game with a fifty in the winning chase against the West Indies. 

“David is in exceptional form,” said Lyon. “To chase low totals can be difficult, but the way he went about it, the style of cricket he played, it was exceptional.” 

Aware that South Africa too boasts of some "exceptional" batsmen, he added: “We know what South Africa bring. They're a world-class team, they've some absolute superstars. It's going to be a great challenge.” 

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