South Africa will be taking on the Australians in a 2 match T20 series commencing from Cape Town tomorrow to kick off South Africa’s 2011/12 home international season. 3 one day internationals and 2 tests will follow. Sri Lanka will be visiting for 3 tests and 5 one day internationals afterwards around the New Year time. Many of the players from both teams are coming into this tournament on the back of their participation in the Champions League where Mumbai Indians became the 2nd IPL team to lift the trophy in back to back years, despite the absence of their star player in SRT who was ruled out of the competition with injury.
South Africa and Australia have a 3-3 score line against each other in this format of the game. Hashim Amla will be leading the Proteas in a new era with Gary Kirsten taking over as head coach. Australia have been woeful in this format with 7 losses in their last 8 appearances. Cameron White will be doing his level best to get the team back on track in this format with the 4th ICC World T20 championship less than a year away. The 2010 finalists will want to put on a good show after disappointing quarter final elimination in the 2011 CWC where the eventual winners knocked them out in Ahmadabad.
Warner: Winner of the golden bat in the CL T20. He will coming into this game with back to back centuries in this version of the game which is a formidable accomplishment. The explosive left handed opener has the talent and intensity to tee off and get the Baggy Greens off to a flyer early on. There is certainly no shortage of excitement when he is whacking them past the bowler at a rate of knots. The visitors will be hoping for him to set the tone and seize in the initiative early doors with remarkable form and sheer flamboyance.
Botha: An experienced bowler in this version of the game with over 90 caps and an economy of below 6. The South African off spinner is a canny customer who fires the ball into the batsmen rather than trying to beat them in the air. His main strength is containment and he tends to run through his over quickly not allowing the batsmen much time to think on his feet. Botha is also a capable pinch hitter down the order who can be promoted up the order to get quick fire runs. A thinking cricketer who is gifted in all 3 departments and has a successful track record in 20/20s. Also, a previous South African captain who will be a useful reference in giving Mr Amla some tips and advice during his first outing in charge.
7/9 of the times the team batting 2nd has won an international 20/20 at Newlands. The last international T20 this ground hosted was the 2007 ICC T20 WC semi final between Pakistan and New Zealand. The venue is a picturesque sight with the mountain surroundings. On Sunday, in Jo Burg we can expect a high scoring feast with the small ground dimensions. The spectators should get their money's worth. Cricket SAs attendances tend to be high in these day night spectacles.
1-1 will be the usual thing to say when it comes to these 2 match series so I'll sit on the fence for this one, however should I pick a winner to whitewash the other that has to go to South Africa who are a prolific T20 team. Yes, they have not shown their potential in ICC events and underachieved by the spook of choking, but in these one off and 2 game series they have by and large had the better of their oppositions.