Proteas take on wounded Aussies

2014-09-02 00:00

IT’S a known fact that a wounded animal is the most dangerous, something the Proteas need to take heed of ahead of today’s ODI clash with Australia in Harare.

The men from Down Under have had their African safari severely derailed after their shock three-wicket defeat to Zimbabwe on Sunday and have a point to prove in more ways than one.

Besides Sunday’s debacle, the Aussies were completely overpowered by the Proteas in their meeting last week, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis smashing centuries as a respectable target of 327 was easily chased down for a seven-wicket win.

It’s a two-sided coin really as the Proteas were less than convincing in their next game, making heavy weather of beating a spirited Zimbabwe by 61 runs, with their playing of spin exposed by the exploits of Prosper Utseya.

The spinner bagged five wickets, including a hat-trick, as the Protea middle-order crumbled after a century plus opening stand between Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla. It was left to the last wicket pair of Aaron Phangiso and Imran Tahir to see the Proteas beyond 200 as they tottered on 195-9 and a stronger batting line up would have seen the opposition take the game.

In a nutshell, both sides have something to prove, knowing their last matches were well below par.

Spinner Phangiso is relishing the triangular series, using the stage to hone and fine-tune his skills ahead of next year’s ICC World Cup. He’s only played one match in the tournament to date, but looked consistent in taking 2-33 in eight overs and making 13 in the 29-run last wicket stand against Zimbabwe. “Game time is what matters to me and putting in the performances when it counts,” he said.

“When that happens, everything takes care of itself. I am enjoying a lengthy run in the side and am focused on doing well in this series.”

He has made nine ODI appearances to date but this is the first time there has been some consistency in his selection.

“I have been with the team for a while but must wait for chances to play,” he said. “This is my longest run I’ve had with the team and I need to prove I can handle cricket at this level. Confidence is important.”

Fellow spinner Imran Tahir has been the preferred spinning option in the past, but Phangiso highlights the partnership they have created, especially when both are selected in the side.

“We have played at domestic level together and talk often on our plans and tactics,” he said. “I am more containing, while he attacks with his variations from the other end.”

Having missed the Zimbabwe game with a virus, captain AB de Villiers is expected to lead the team today and Morné Morkel should return as well.

The Aussies will be without Michael Clarke who has returned home with a recurring hamstring injury.

It remains to be seen whether the Proteas will opt for two specialist spinners but whatever teams from both sides are selected, prepare for another epic showdown with two of the world’s best ODI sides set to shake the continent.

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