HOBART - There’s everything to play for in the final one-day international between Australia and South Africa in Hobart on Sunday. Australia breathed life into the series with a narrow seven-run victory in the second ODI on Friday, and in the process arrested a streak of seven straight ODI losses – it was their longest losing streak in the format.

It was a whole different performance to the one the home side dished out in the first ODI – they were bundled for 152 and suffered a six-wicket loss. The fightback came via the bowlers. Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were the main protagonists as Australia successful defended 232 by seven runs.

That, however, doesn’t take away from the fact that the batting still needs work. Aaron Finch, Chris Lynn and Alex Carey all scored 40s, but none of them managed to kick on and with wickets falling all around them, it was not a terribly pleasing story.

MATCH STARTS AT 7:50 AM

The bowlers are holding their own – they managed to put up a fight in the first ODI as well – and if the batsmen can do better, Australia might just be able to swing things their way in the decider. South Africa will make that prospect quite difficult, no doubt. And especially so if Kagiso Rabada continues bowling the way he did in Adelaide – his 4/54 was exceptional, and the bounce he extracted significantly troubled the Australians.

Faf du Plessis, after the victory in the first ODI, said his side needed to be ruthless, take whatever chance presented itself and put their foot on the gas. South Africa didn’t manage that in Adelaide – they allowed Australia to put on partnerships and didn’t stitch together many of their own. They will hope to correct that come Sunday in what promises to be a thrilling finale to a short but sweet series.

Aaron Finch, the skipper, was back among the runs in Adelaide after a poor run of scores, going back to the T20Is against Pakistan – the 41 was his first double-digit score in six international games. It certainly bodes well for Finch, who will hope to get back to his destructive best. It might just be the lift a struggling Australian batting line-up needs.

Kagiso Rabada was excellent in Adelaide, and he’ll once again be looking to have a go at an Australian batting line-up yet to fully settle. Australia will be wary of him – he is, after all, the No.6-ranked bowler in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Rankings – and that will only increase the pressure on them to score against the rest of the South African attack, which could be risky.

 

SQUADS

AUSTRALIA: Aaron Finch (c), Alex Carey (wk), Josh Hazlewood, Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, D’Arcy Short, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa

SOUTH AFRICA : Faf du Plessis (c), Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn.