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Australia v South Africa tri-series, Barbados – Preview

Barbados leg of tri-series poised for intriguing clashes

Australia v South Africa tri-series, Barbados – Preview - Cricket News
Australia will look to negate the Imran Tahir threat.
Australia and South Africa will face each other at Barbados to kick off the third round of tri-series games on Sunday (June 19). At present, all teams have faced the other twice, and have all secured a win and suffered defeat against an opponent each, which makes the final round of games wide open.
The teams are tied on points, but South Africa sits atop the table on Net Run Rate, after thrashing West Indies, by 139 runs in its previous meeting. Its rivals Australia occupy the second spot. While Net Run Rate may have a bearing in determining the finalists, teams will look to gain on points in order to present themselves the best chance of qualifying for the final.
South Africa's mammoth win over West Indies was engineered primarily by Imran Tahir and Hashim Amla. Other batsmen such as Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis made telling contributions as well. Tabraiz Shamsi played an efficient second fiddle to Tahir in the bowling department.
With figures 7 for 45 Tahir registered the record for best South African bowling figures in ODIs. Shamsi chipped in with two wickets to demolish West Indies. Spinners have been the defining element this series, and Claude Henderson, South Africa's coach dedicated to the discipline, is backing his spinners to come good again.
“We are very fortunate to have a great mixture of spin bowling,” said Henderson. “Tabraiz Shamsi has come in as a new-comer and gives us the variation as the china-man. Imran Tahir, in my opinion, has shown why he is the number one ODI bowler in world cricket. He has got great variation, he takes wickets and can bowl on any surface, especially when the wickets don’t spin, that is when he is dangerous."
Barbados is expected to be a better batting surface than the one at Basseterre, where the previous set of games were hosted. Yet Henderson didn’t rule out the possibility of fielding three spinners.
"Do we go in with three spinners, is that an option? I am always in favour of spin, I feel sides don’t really prepare that well against spin like they do for pace bowling. It’s nice to have this variation for this series,” he said.

Australia's batting woes came to surface in the absence of the dominating David Warner, who was ruled out of the series with a thumb fracture. Australia will seek to balance out Warner's absence by bringing in the equally intimidating Mitchell Starc to bolster the bowling. Coming from a six month injury lay-off, Australia's management has decided to prune his workload by resting him from two games so far, both of which Australia lost.
Starc admitted to feeling frustrated about missing out, but recognised the need for timely breaks. "At the moment I'm feeling really good, I'm feeling strong and ready to go at every point,” he said. “It's about me getting right for the next game and if that involves playing, that's lovely. But if it means I have to rest or sit out here and there, I'll have to cop that on the chin as well.”
Steven Smith, the Australia captain, missed training sessions on two successive days following the quad tightness he faced in Australia's defeat to West Indies raising concerns about his participation for the South Africa game, but Starc was sure that Smith would be match-fit.
"I know it's all precautionary and he'll be ready to go for Sunday's clash," said Starc. "I'm sure he's raring to go and to hit a few cricket balls."
Australia will hope Starc's optimism reflects reality. Without Warner, the line-up looks a tad susceptible, and losing Smith could be a serious blow.
In the bowling department, Adam Zampa, the legspinner, has shown immense promise, but took a beating in the previous game. Recalling Nathan Lyon, the offspinner, might also be an option. Going by the quality of the two sides and the nature of the tournament so far, it's tough to label one team as having the edge. The victorious team will inch closer towards a final berth.

Teams (from):
Australia: Steven Smith (capt), George Bailey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade (wk), Adam Zampa.
South Africa: AB de Villiers (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Tabraiz Shamsi.

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