South Africa will look to enter the record books on Sunday as they aim to recover from a 2-0 deficit to complete a stunning ODI series turnaround against Australia in Joburg.
Australia was in control early on, taking the first two one-day internationals before South Africa fired back to level the series and set up a thrilling finale.
Should the Proteas take the series from 2-0 down, it would be just the fifth time that has happened in men’s ODI history and the first since Australia’s tour of India back in 2019.
MATCH CENTRE: South Africa vs Australia fifth ODI scorecard
Australia will have to rebound without Travis Head (fractured hand), with coach Andrew McDonald admitting injuries are “the biggest concern” for his team at the moment.
Mitchell Marsh has won the toss and elected to field first in Johannesburg. Cameron Green returns after his concussion scare, while Marsh will open the batting
David Warner, Mitchell Marsh (c), Josh Inglis, Marcus Labuschagne, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Tim David, Sean Abbott, Michael Neser, Nathan Ellis Adam Zampa
South African XI
Temba Bavuma (c) Quinton de Kock (wk), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram (capt), Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Marco Jansen, Gerald Coetzee, Andile Phehlulwayo Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi
Head’s WC dreams over after injury? | 01:13
“If we win the last game it will be very fulfilling,”coach McDonald said ahead of Sunday’s game.
“There’s a series still alive, it’s two-all and we’re here to play to win. The biggest concern we’ve got is some injuries to players that aren’t here.’
Marnus Labuschagne would be the leading contender to replace the injured Head, who is racing the clock to be fit for the World Cup opener.
All-rounder Tim David is another name that has been floated ahead of the World Cup.
Mark Taylor though has questioned whether Australia already has too many all-rounders and is in need of more dominant scoring options,
“I will be surprised if it’s a batter that falls out of the squad to get Labuschagne in,” Taylor said on Nine’s Sports Sunday.
“We’ve got a lot of all-rounders in our squad and not a lot of out-and-out batters, and I think we’ve seen in this series in South Africa which is now two-all, you still need batters.
“You still need someone to make a 100, 50 off 30 balls, yes, is a nice addition, but you still need someone who makes big scores in any form of the game to win games.
“Obviously Labuschagne and Travis Head can both bowl a little bit, but apart from that there’s Stoinis, Marsh, Cameron Green, Glenn Maxwell … Australia have got a lot of all-rounders in their 15.
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“It’s probably indicative of where cricket is at the moment, there’s so much influence from T20 cricket that those players who can bat, bowl and field well are getting preference over those who have only got two skills.
“There’s not room for all four all-rounders in our one-day squad, but it’s going to be hard to work out who misses out.”
Captain Pat Cummins (wrist), Mitchell Starc (groin) and Glenn Maxwell (ankle) all missed the tour of South Africa but are expected to be fit to face India ahead of the World Cup.
“They’re progressing well, and they’ll be big inclusions, but we’d prefer to focus on what’s happening here and we’ve seen some exposure to debutants, we’ve built a bit more depth in our list and squad,” added McDonald.
“They’re the real positives. Tanveer Sangha, Aaron Hardie have featured, disappointing that Cameron Green hasn’t been available as well. We would have liked to have seen him in some different scenarios and positions as well.
“All in all, it’s been a successful tour so far but as I said, if you walk away with the win then it’s a total success. If you don’t in the fifth game, then it can be disappointing.”
Proteas punish Australia in fourth ODI | 01:55
South Africa though will have all the momentum after a dominant 164-run win, putting up the team’s second-highest team total against Australia in one-day internationals.
McDonald admitted there is “increased pressure” on Australia given the way South Africa has stormed back into contention but added it is good preparation for the upcoming World Cup.
“Definitely, there’s increased pressure,” he said.
“To come down to a decider, no doubt will replicate some of the pressure of a World Cup. In a tournament, the pressure is heightened.
“Potentially teams play slightly different. There’s not as much freedom at certain times so it’ll be a different type of pressure.
“But it’ll be relatively close and South Africa have played some really good cricket in the last couple of games and we played some good cricket in the first couple of games, so we’ve got to rebound from that and respond.”
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