South Africa and Australia meet in the final of the Zimbabwe Triangular Series in Harare on Saturday after finishing in first and second places respectively in the points table.
And with both nations having each won one of their two clashes against the other in the round-robin group phase, we should be in store for an evenly matched contest in the Zimbabwean capital to decide the overall winner of this ODI competition.
What: Australia vs. South Africa
Where: Harare Sports Club, Harare
When: Saturday, September 6, 9:30 a.m. local time, 7:30 a.m. GMT
Live Stream/TV info: SuperSport (South Africa and Zimbabwe), PTV Sports (Pakistan), Ten Sports (India and others), Orbit Show Network (Middle East), Willow TV (USA)
GJ Bailey*, BCJ Cutting, JP Faulkner, AJ Finch, BJ Haddin†, PJ Hughes, MG Johnson, NM Lyon, MR Marsh, GJ Maxwell, KW Richardson, SPD Smith, MA Starc
AB de Villiers*, HM Amla, KJ Abbott, Q de Kock†, JP Duminy, F du Plessis, Imran Tahir, DA Miller, M Morkel, WD Parnell, AM Phangiso, RR Rossouw, M Shezi, DW Steyn
Last five matches (starting with the most recent): WLLWW
This triangular series has been Australia’s first taste of 50-over cricket since they thrashed England 4-1 on home soil at the turn of the year, while prior to that they lost 3-2 in India last October and November.
However, having arrived in Southern Africa as the world’s No. 1-ranked ODI side, George Bailey’s men have since been knocked off top spot following defeats to both South Africa, and more surprisingly the host nation too, in the group stage.
Last five matches (starting with the most recent): WLWWW
The Proteas came into this tri-series in impressive ODI form after wins on the road against both Zimbabwe (3-0) last month and Sri Lanka (2-1) in July, with the side currently ranked No. 3 in the world by the ICC having also lost just one of their previous five encounters.
But with that setback having come at the hands of Australia in Harare on Tuesday, South Africa certainly will not be taking anything for granted in the final.
Australia: Aaron Finch
The big-hitting opening batsman has already scored one quick-fire century against South Africa in the round-robin stage, with the right-hander smashing 102 off just 116 balls—including nine fours and a six—when the two countries first met last month (see video).
And the Proteas will therefore be fully aware that the longer the pint-sized 27-year-old Victorian remains at the wicket on Saturday, then the less chance they will have of winning this competition.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis
With an incredible three hundreds to his name already in the space of just four group-phase fixtures, there is no doubt at all about who the in-form batsman is on both sides going into the final.
And with two of those tons coming against Saturday’s opponents—106 and 126—the Proteas No. 3 will be the man the Aussie bowlers will be most keen to see the back of at the Harare Sports Club.
According to the BBC, it is expected to be hot in Harare on Saturday, with bright sunshine and temperatures ranging between eight and 22 degrees Celsius, although there is also a small chance of rain in the afternoon.
With the final being the seventh match to be played at the Harare Sports Club—albeit on different strips—expect the surface in the Zimbabwean capital on Saturday to be fairly worn and so both conducive to spin and hard to score on, with the team winning the toss certain to field first.