World Cup 2019, Australia vs South Africa: Top five player battles - David Warner, Steve Smith to return against Proteas
Australia coach Justin Langer believes Steve Smith and David Warner will be under no extra pressure when they face South Africa for the first time since both batsmen were given 12-month bans for ball-tampering. Then-captain Smith and Warner, his deputy, were hit with year-long bans by Cricket Australia for their roles in an extraordinary incident during a Test in Cape Town that saw team-mate Cameron Bancroft indulge in a brazen breach of the rules by applying sandpaper to the ball.
Both Smith and Warner have been subjected to repeated booing by English crowds during the World Cup -- the pair’s first major international tournament since their suspensions ended.
Here are the five key player battles that can define the contest:
David Warner vs Kagiso Rabada
The heated exchanges on the field between David Warner and Kagiso Rabada was one of the many focuses of Australia’s Test series against South Africa last year, until the ball tampering took over everything else. The fast bowler has not enjoyed the best time in the tournament and would be eager to reignite the rivalry with the left-handed batsman. But more than him, Warner, who will be playing his first match against Proteas since the ball-tampering, will hope to redeem himself with a high scoring innings against the opposition, and tackle the threat posed by Rabada early on.
Steve Smith vs Lungi Ngidi
Steve Smith will be facing South Africa for the first time since ball tampering. The batsman will look to make up for the time he lost on cricket, when he was banned, and hope to tackle the threat pose by seamer Lungi Ngidi. Smith has not scored a single ton in the tournament and he would hope to change that against South Africa. Ngidi has been a smart customer with the ball in the series, and has the ability to trouble the middle-order. He would hope to do the same again this Saturday.
Pat Cummins vs Hashim AmlaHashim Amla has not enjoyed a good tournament as he has struggled to get going. In the previous match, the batsman struck around with skipper Faf du Plessis as South Africa pull off an easy 9-wicket win. A confident Hashim Amla can pose troubles for South Africa up top and Pat Cummins would hope to be well equipped to deal with the danger. The right-armer was fantastic against Amla in the Test series last year and dismissed the batsman four times. He would hope to repeat a same performance in the ODIs
Nathan Lyon vs Faf du Plessis
Faf du Plessis has been known to struggle against spin bowling, and Nathan Lyon, who showed signs of good form in the previous match against New Zealand. The leggie will hope to cause troubles to the skipper who took his side to win in the previous match against Sri Lanka. This is the classic middle order battle on the cards, that could go on to define the course of result of the match.
Imran Tahir vs Alex Carey
Alex Carey has been a special player for Australia, who has shone throughout the World Cup tournament. The wicketkeeper-batsman has been impressive in the middle and death overs, and has given the side a real boost of flavour in case the big names have not worked out. Tahir has been in wicket-taking form in the tournament and for someone, who is playing his final ODI, he will look to get more wickets to mark a glorious end to his career. Carey would be a big prize.
(With inputs from agencies)