Australia won the first Twenty20 of the three-match series against South Africa on Wednesday. Rain forced the game to be shortened to seven overs a side and the visitors clinched a five-wicket win, leaving little time to prepare before the World T20 later in the month.
What: South Africa vs. Australia, 3rd T20
Venue: SuperSport Park, Centurion
When: Friday, 14 March 2014
Start time: 4 p.m. GMT/6 p.m. local time
Live on: SuperSport 2, South Africa; Sky Sports, U.K.
Weather: The Gauteng region is currently experiencing some of the highest rainfalls it's had in years. The rain has been falling non-stop and, as it stands, it will be falling on Friday, too, according to Accuweather. The only solace is that there is the possibility that the rain might clear toward the evening, but yet another shortened match looks likely.
The merits of having a 20-over match truncated to resemble something out of satire has been much debated before. It takes a quick-fire contest and transforms it into an undignified slogfest. While the pair of Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock will be pleased with the time they got out in the middle, whether it actually aids them in terms of the World T20 remains debatable.
One thing that was notable, though, was South Africa capping youngster Beuran Hendricks. Hendricks was the leading wicket-taker in the domestic T20 competition and the management staff wanted to give him time in an international pressure situation to see what he's made of.
Hendricks, a master of the yorker, came up short far too often. Whether it was simply a case of the yips for the left-armer remains to be seen, but bowling at the death, Hendricks struggled.
Kyle Abbott was the standout bowler, but he was given just one over and questions raged about why he was not allowed to bowl a second. After the match, coach Russell Domingo explained that it was because Abbott is not in the World T20 squad.
Russell Domingo confirms that Abbott would have bowled final over - if he was in the World T20 squad.— Neil Manthorp (@NeilManthorp) March 12, 2014
For Australia, David Warner and veteran finisher Brad Hodge were superb. It's better not to read too much into the performance in a seven-over slogfest, but Australia's batsmen were certainly the happier of the two teams.
With the World T20 just around the corner, South Africa will be far more desperate for a full game on Friday. The Proteas need to calculate their combinations before heading to the tournament next week and a reduced game is a pitiful way to practice.
Players to watch
Wayne Parnell was another one of the better bowlers for South Africa. The left-armer managed speeds of up to 147km/h and although he couldn't defend the last over, Parnell showed all the signs of being back to his T20 best.
Nathan Coulter-Nile was accurate and impressive and was the only Australian bowler to take a wicket. Centurion's bouncy surface will suit him far better and if the game goes all the way, his overs early on could be key.
Faf du Plessis (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wkt), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Beuran Hendricks, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
George Bailey (captain), Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin (wkt), Moises Henriques, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Glenn Maxwell, James Muirhead, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.