6 reasons why South Africa have been winning despite the absence of AB de Villiers
There are two phases for the South African ODI team - the tournament phase and the bilateral series phase. In the bilateral phase, the One-Day team has found ways to win crunch games. They find themselves with an array of match-winners tussling to contribute.
In the tournament phase over the years, the squad has tended to look worn out and short of ideas. The match winners who play crucial knocks in the bilateral series look out of sync and fail to produce defining performances.
However, this has not always been the case. Australia have been one opponent they have struggled against in tournaments as well as in bilateral series. Their last ODI series win, before the ongoing series, against Australia dates back to 2009, where the spin duo of Johan Botha and Roelof Van der Merwe gave South Africa an incredible series victory at home.
The two bilateral series in between have been dominated by Australia, who won 2-1 in 2011 and 4-1 in 2014 respectively.
This series has, however, been a different one. The man who steals all the sport headlines in the country, AB De Villiers, is missing due to injury, yet, South Africa find themselves 3-0 ahead already. De Villiers has been the architect of the majority of South Africa's ODI series wins in the last decade.
His sheer presence adds value beyond measure to this line-up. His average is well beyond 50, yet it does not do justice to his contribution to South Africa's ODI fortunes.
He has a averaged above 40 every year since 2008 and has a strike rate of 99.87. Five of the top six fastest hundreds by South Africans belong to De Villiers. He holds the World record for the fastest 50,100 and 150 in ODIs. Is there anything this superman cannot do?
Such has been his presence in the middle order that the shortcomings of Faf Du Plessis, David Miller and JP Duminy, who form the crux of the middle order, have gone unnoticed. But all of that has vanished in this series and South Africa have managed to trump Australia in all departments in this series.
Let us take a look at the factors that have accounted for South Africa's dominance in this ODI series, despite the absence of their superhuman machine.
#1 Strong starts
The openers, De Kock and Rossouw in the first two games and Amla and De Kock in Durban, have provided scintillating starts at an explosive run rate. In the first game at Centurion, the opening partnership was worth 145 in just 17 overs and that paved the way for an easy chase of 295. De Kock was the architect of that victory with his 178, but Rossouw, returning to the side after an injury lay-off, contributed a quickfire 63 in 45 balls.
In the second game at Johannesburg, the same duo made 70 in 10 overs before De Kock miscued a hit to mid-on. Rossouw, however, carried on his good form and scored 75. The platform set by them helped Faf and Duminy launch South Africa's total past 350.
In the third ODI, Amla replaced Rossouw at the top and blazed away to 45 in 30 balls. De Kock and Amla looked unfazed by the daunting target of 372, and smacked 66 in 8 overs before Amla was dismissed by Hastings. De Kock continued to pile on the misery for Australia as he made 70.