Cape Town – Kingsmead is already notorious for its ability to hand out hoodoos willy-nilly to the South African national cricket team.
Few Proteas enthusiasts need reminding of the most soul-destroying flashpoint of them all: the one-run Duckworth/Lewis miscalculation as the heavens opened against Sri Lanka which led to the country’s elimination from its maiden home-staged World Cup in 2003.
Then there is the modern Test record to consider: far from being a fortress for South Africa, the ground has provided mostly misery in the format for some seven years with just one Proteas victory in seven clashes, a sequence including five losses and just one draw.
That stalemate, of course, came in the last Test at the venue several weeks ago, when a stubborn jinx all of its own – the local weather – came hugely into the picture as no play was possible against New Zealand for any of the last three days in the first of two scheduled encounters due to a muddy outfield.
The forecast looks agreeably pleasant, touch wood, for Wednesday’s third ODI (13:30 start), with SA, 2-0 to the good, attempting to clinch the five-game series against Australia, the No 1-ranked side, surprisingly early.
But there is an additional statistical pitfall the Proteas will have to overcome if they want that quick series kill in Durban: the fact that the Aussies have won all of the last four bilateral ODIs at Kingsmead (all of them day-nighters, too) and lead 5-2 overall there in the format.
Here is a short recap of those four consecutive Durban nightmares against the old enemy that Faf du Plessis and his charges will wish to put a grinding halt to (from most recent):
October 2011: Australia (227/7) beat South Africa (222/6) by three wickets:
The final and decisive clash after a 1-1 situation, the Aussies won a war of relative attrition on a slow surface with more than two overs to spare after widespread agreement that the Proteas’ total batting first hadn’t looked quite enough despite half-centuries (but failure to bat “through”) from Jacques Kallis and the run-out Hashim Amla. Shane Watson made strides toward the target upfront with 49, and then veteran left-hander Mike Hussey guided the tourists home with his unbeaten 45 at No 6. Proteas off-spinner Johan Botha (later to become Aussie-based) did his best to strangle them with an analysis of 10-1-21-1 but his admirable economy was in vain.
April 2009: Australia (286/7) beat South Africa (145) by 141 runs:
This was the first contest in a five-game series eventually secured 3-2 by the Proteas, but it was the Aussies who got the earliest traction. Hussey was to the fore again with an unbeaten knock of 86, after Brad Haddin (53) had played some powerful strokes upfront. The reply was “memorable” for SA slumping spectacularly from a solid enough platform at 94/2 (featuring skipper Graeme Smith’s 52). But then Australian off-spinner Nathan Hauritz became a major tormentor, bagging 4/29 as the remainder of the home innings became a sad procession back to the pavilion …
March 2006: Australia (247/9) beat South Africa (246/9) by one wicket:
Here the Aussies completed a brave series clawback from 2-0 down to level things up at 2-2 in the fourth ODI (the series was then decided in thrilling home favour by the immortal 438 game at the Wanderers). But at Kingsmead the tourists edged a nail-biter, despite Boeta Dippenaar batting three balls short of the entire SA innings for a fighting 101 as opener and Shaun Pollock weighing in with 53 not out at his home ground. A typically belligerent 76 from Oz “bad boy” Andrew Symonds fired the victory charge, although Roger Telemachus (3/34 in a full 10 overs) came close to turning the tide the other way.
April 2002: Australia (271/2) beat South Africa (267/6) by eight wickets:
A one-sided clash in an unusually long (seven-game) one-sided series! The Aussies romped home in game five at Kingsmead; South Africa’s lone triumph would come in the particularly dead-rubber game seven at Newlands. Hometown idol Jonty Rhodes notched up 77 in the promising-looking SA total batting first, but then a certain Adam Gilchrist left the Proteas’ plans in tatters with a hallmark run-a-ball 105. He blitzed 170 for the first wicket with another blaster in the shape of Matt Hayden (59). Speedster Nantie Hayward and debutant all-rounder Jon Kent suffered special “tap” in the onslaught.
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