ODI series preview: Australia v South Africa

News

After a less than impressive T20 series, which they lost after leading it, South Africa will be relieved to have their senior players back in the mix for the five-match ODI series against Australia.

The Aussies have already announced their side for the first two matches, both to be played at the WACA in Perth, and have made the surprising decision to drop all-rounder Steve Smith, to make room for Shane Watson.

Smith has been one of their better players in recent months, and scored a century and a half ton in the three ODIs against Pakistan. He was also impressive in the Tests, which the Aussies lost, so he can feel aggrieved at being named drinks carrier.

Also making way from the side that played in the UAE was Kane Richardson, but he was less impressive and the inclusion of Josh Hazlewood in his stead has not caused a fuss. Glenn Maxwell is the only spinner left.

Matthew Wade will take up the keeping gloves for the series, after veteran BradHaddin was first rested for the opening three games, and then ruled out of the series entirely. Whether he'll be fit for the first Test against India is the question now.

As for the Proteas, they are without JP Duminy after he was ruled out with a knee injury. His squad replacement is Farhaan Behardien, who was unimpressive in the T20s, and Rilee Rossouw is likely to play in the starting XI instead.

But on the very bright side, the big guns have returned. AB de Villiers is back to lead the side, as are Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel. The 'bunch of randoms' feel of the T20 side has been dispelled.

This is likely to be a tightly contested, and fiercely aggressive, series, with background emotions likely to bleed into the middle. Steyn and Michael Clarke parted on bad terms earlier this year, and one should expect a bouncer or two aimed at Pup's f*@&in' arm.

Key Men

For the Australians, fast bowler Mitchell Johnson will be straining at the leash. He loves bowling here, and nearly broke Smith's finger in the nets this week, loving the pace and bounce as he was. The Proteas will have the scared eyes, we reckon.

The Proteas will look to skipper AB de Villiers. If the top two fail, De Villiers will be required to play his usual brand of attacking yet smart cricket. As leader, his tactics will need to be spot on, especially in the death overs.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results

2014 Tri-series final: South Africa won by six wickets in Harare
2014 Tri-series: Australia won by 62 runs in Harare
2014 Tri-series: South Africa won by seven wickets in Harare
2011, Third ODI: Australia won by three wickets in Durban
2011, Second ODI: South Africa won by 80 runs in Port Elizabeth

Squads

Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), George Bailey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson

South Africa: AB de Villiers (capt), Hashim Amla, Kyle Abbott, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn

Fixtures

First ODI: 14 November in Perth
Second ODI: 16 November in Perth
Third ODI: 19 November in Canberra
Fourth ODI: 21 November in Melbourne
Fifth ODI: 23 November in Sydney

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