Ahead of the five-match One Day International (ODI) series against Australia, South Africa sent out warning signals to the Steven Smith-led side by securing a huge 206-run victory over Ireland in Benoni on Sunday (September 25). The Australians, who will also face the European team in an one-off game, will be eager to make a strong statement as well and enter the series against the hosts with a lot of confidence.
With several front-line pacers missing from the Australian squad, the onus will be on John Hastings and Scott Boland to man the pace attack, which has three uncapped players in Chris Tremain, Joe Mennie and Daniel Worrall. Tremain, Mennie and Worrall, who are likely to make their debut at different points of the South Africa tour, will be eager to make their presence felt and repay the confidence shown in them by their coach Darren Lehmann.
Australia’s batting, on the other hand, does not have too many concerns. Smith returns to captain the team after taking a break during the Sri Lanka tour’s limited-overs leg. He will be leading an experienced batting line-up which has the likes of David Warner, Aaron Finch and George Bailey, along with Usman Khawaja, who was called in to replace an injured Shaun Marsh after initially being overlooked following a poor run of scores. The presence of Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade adds depth to the batting, which will be the primary strength for Australia, considering the inexperienced bowling line-up.
Meanwhile, the game against Australia on Tuesday (September 27) will be Ireland’s fifth game against a Test-playing nation in the space of three months. While skipper William Porterfield has always stressed that his team is not there to only make up the numbers, Ireland hasn’t been able to punch above its weight, suffering massive defeats against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa, in between a 2-2 draw against Afghanistan.
A listless batting display against South Africa saw Ireland suffer their second successive loss by a margin of 200 or more runs. Apart from Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien, none of the batsmen made a noteworthy contributions, while the bowling too lacked sting as Temba Bavuma and Co. made merry. Thing cannot change overnight, but Ireland will have to conjure something special if they are to offer a challenge to Australia, who despite their weakened bowling, can inflict major damage. (Courtesy Cricket Buzz.com)