South Africa will look to secure a berth in the final © AFP
South Africa will look to secure a berth in the tri-series final © AFP

Australia will face South Africa in the fifth One-Day International (ODI) of the Zimbabwe triangular series 2014 at Harare. In their previous meeting, South Africa had chased down a massive target of 328 courtesy a 206-run partnership between Faf Du Plessis and AB de Villiers. Sameer Jha looks at some of the key clashes that fans may get to enjoy in the match.

1. Hashim Amla vs Mitchell Johnson

Hashim Amla, has been South Africa’s Mr. Dependable and has been a major part of their success in recent months. Amla, currently the No 1 ranked batsman in ODIs, will be looking to continue his good form, but will face stiff opposition from Mitchell Johnson. Johnson was rested in the previous game which his team lost to Zimbabwe, and will be raring to take wickets against the South African side.
Interestingly, Johnson has grabbed the headlines in the triangular series but not for taking wickets. He was once in news for hitting a six where the ball went straight through the commentary box in the first ODI against Zimbabwe. Additionally, Tinashe Panyangara had been suspended allegedly shared a video of Johnson bowling bouncers in The Ashes 2013-14 with his teammates on social networking app WhatsApp.

2. AB de Villiers vs Nathan Lyon
AB de Villiers, the No 2 ranked batsman in ODIs, was missing in action in the third ODI between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Had he been in the side, the magical Prosper Utseya hat-trick might not have happened as there would then be no Rilee Russouw (a promising South African batsman who scored two ducks in his first two ODIs) coming in at No 4 for the Proteas. Utseya’s hat-trick may have been nipped in the bud, and South Africa may have capitalized on the strong start provided by Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla and posted a mammoth total. Thankfully for South Africa, Russouw’s tragedy and De Villiers’ absence did not prevent them from winning.

The South African skipper will have to be wary of a determined Nathan Lyon who caused plenty of problems for the Zimbabwean batsman in the third ODI. Despite Australia ending up on the losing side, Lyon’s figures of four for 42 would have certainly impressed his team’s management and strengthened his case for inclusion in the upcoming ICC World Cup 2015.

3. Aaron Finch vs Dale Steyn

With 180 runs in three matches, Finch has scored more runs than anyone else in the ongoing triangular series. In the second ODI against South Africa, Finch had scored a superb century but in the fourth ODI against Zimbabwe the same Aaron Finch was bowled after scoring just 11 runs by John Nyumbu.

Dale Steyn, who bowled brilliantly and took crucial wickets to defend a small total of 231, will be looking to make things as difficult for Finch as possible.

4. George Bailey vs Aaron Phangiso

Bailey contributed just one run in Australia’s total of 210 against Zimbabwe in the fourth ODI and he’ll certainly look to make a better effort against South Africa. However, the Australian captain (in Michael Clarke’s absence) who has probably figured the secret to smiling in success and failure, will need to tackle the 30-year old Aaron Phangiso.

Phangiso was hugely impressive in South Africa’s 61-run win over Zimbabwe, and made full use of the spin-friendly Harare wicket, to take the crucial wickets of Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor.

(Sameer Jha is a reporter at cricketcountry.comHe can be followed on Twitter at@SameerJha_)