South Africa are set to begin their limited-overs tour of Australia with the first ODI at the Perth Stadium on Sunday.
Australia have hosted the Proteas in 36 completed bilateral ODI fixtures and won 18 of those. The South Africans are slightly behind on 17 wins while one ended in a tie. In their most recent ODI fixture back in October 2016, South Africa rode on Rilee Rossouw's century to amass 327/8 in their quota of 50 overs.
The Aussies, in reply, got off to a good start. Due to the disastrous failure of their middle order, they were eventually bowled out for 296 in the 48th over and ended up losing the match by 31 runs.
Aussies have found an unexpected dip in their performance. The fact that they have lost nine out of ten ODI's, is enough to elaborate their form. They will now be eyeing a new ray of hope under Skipper Aaron Finch leadership, who recently took over the captaincy duties from Tim Paine, in a hope to turn Australian fortunes.
Shaun Marsh and Travis Head are coming into this series on back of a good ODI series in England where they hit two centuries and three fifties respectively. It will be essential that these two must replicate their performance against Proteas.
Skipper Aaron Finch, who failed to make any impact in Pakistan series, will be eager to shrug off the rustiness from his shoulders and lay down a good start for the others to follow. While Chris Lynn is a very destructive white-ball batsman at the top and he could take the hosts off to a blazing start.
The Aussies have a decent bowling attack in Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. Starc is their most experienced campaigner with 141 wickets to his name. While Cummins and Hazlewood have done good job in recent times and the Aussies will be counting on this pace triplet to rattle the South Africa batting unit.
Expected Playing XI
Aaron Finch (c), Alex Carey (wk), Shaun Marsh, Chris Lynn, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood (vc)
South Africa got a major blow ahead of the series, as their two experienced campaigners Hashim Amla and JP Duminy have been ruled out of the tour due their respective injuries.
Meanwhile, the Proteas are too blowing hot and cold in this format with seven wins and equal number of losses in fourteen fixtures they have played this year. With most of their wins coming against lowly sides, they can't be regarded as clear-cut favourites.
In the absence of Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock will have to bear additional responsibility to get the team off to a steady start. While Aiden Markram will once again be seen performing opening duties. Markram is going through a decent run of form. He was one of the highest run-scorers in the recent ODI series against Zimbabwe and is coming off after warming up with a good knock of 47 in the practice match against Prime Minister's XI.
In the middle order, the Proteas will expect a strong contribution from skipper Faf du Plessis and David Miller. While the captain possess an impressive average of 43.38, the southpaw has a strike rate of more than 100. Both will hold the key in case of top order failure.
The Proteas have had a formidable bowling attack with the presence of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir in their armour. Steyn is the most experienced ODI pacer in this squad with 185 wickets and he seemed to be in good touch against Zimbabwe.
Tahir too had decent outing against their elder brothers with ten wickets and will once again pose major threat to the opposition. While Ngidi was their best bowler in the Sri Lanka ODI series with 10 wickets in 4 matches followed by Rabada with six wickets and will be expected to get some wickets upfront.
Expected Playing XI
Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks, Faf du Plessis (c), David Miller, Farhaan Behardien, Dwaine Pretorius, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Imran Tahir