© Getty Images
Quniton de Kock has a reputation for wreaking havoc when he gets going © Getty Images

In Australia versus South Africa matches, it’s hard to pick a favourite. It’s no different in the decider in the T20 tournament at Sydney. Indrajit Dutta looks at some of the players who may have quite an impact on the game

Australia hammered South Africa by seven wickets in the second T20 at Melbourne on Friday. Right from the word go the home-side dominated.  It was Doug Bollinger who started the slide for the Proteas by bagging the crucial wicket of Quinton de Kock off the third ball of the match. From there on JP Duminy’s men could never get going and could only make 101 for seven in their twenty overs. A total of 101 was as paltry as could and South Africa needed to make early inroads. They, however, failed to do and the Aussies ran out easy victors. The teams are locked at one all before the decider at Sydney on Sunday. An exciting game is on the cards.

Here’s a look at some of the battles which have a bearing on the game:

1)  Doug Bollinger vs Quinton de Kock — It was the 33-year old pacer who drew first blood for Australia after he had de Kock edging one to keeper Ben Dunk in the very first over. de Kock is a dangerous customer. He has a reputation for wreaking havoc if he gets going. On Sunday if the southpaw remains at the crease for sometime South Africa would most certainly register a big score.

Bollinger would be hoping for a repeat act in the decider at Sydney. The pacer on his day is very hard to handle across all formats of the game. On Friday he only conceded 23 in his four overs. If he can put in a similar performance at Sydney his captain Finch would be delighted. This will be one fantastic contest which will have an impact on this all-important game.

2) Pat Cummins vs Rilee Rossouw — One immensely talented bowler against one hugely batsman. Rossouw has already given notice of his ability to demoralise an attack with his quick scoring. It’s is obvious that he favours the leg-side boundaries. The young South African has already made an impression with a brilliant 78 in the first T20. In the two games Cummins has consistently troubled the batsmen, therefore the Proteas would welcome it if Rossouw can have a go at Cummins and unsettle him.

Cummins is a very exciting pace prospect for Australia. On his debut as a raw nineteen year-old he took a six-for against the South Africans in their backyard, a very impressive show. Injuries have caused him to miss to entire seasons. Here in this series he’s making a comeback from injury. He’s done well so far. If he’s given the new ball and can get Rossouw out early Australia will have thrown quite a punch. It would be interesting to see how the South African reacts if Cummins can get one or two up his throat.

3) Cameron Boyce vs JP Duminy/David Miller —  The Aussie leg-spinner in the game on Friday had the Proteas in knots.  He came away with the Man of the Match for his two for 15 off four overs.

Duminy and company just could not get Boyce away. To add to this the leggie picked up further dented the South Africans with two wickets. . He had both his victims, Reeza Hendricks and Farhan Behardien, stumped. The manner in which he played on their frustrations and drew them out with flighted deliveries  would have drawn praise from the great Shane Warne. If he can stifle the Proteas again and then pick them off he could be on the winning side again.

David Miller has impressed fans all over the cricketing world with his clean hitting. The southpaw on his day can take the game away in a jiffy from the opposition side. If he’s pushed up the order he can go after Boyce and immediately push the Australians onthe backfoot. At Melboune Behardien coming in before did not come across as a very good idea. Boyce had Behardien all at sea. If Miller can go after him it may unsettle the young leggie. On Sunday he would be hoping to provide some more his ability to clear boundaries with ease.

JP Duminy was the one South African batsman to make an impression at Melbourne. His 49 off 50 balls, though, was not enough to prevent his side from crashing to a heavy seven -wicket loss. How he tackles Boyce can have a bearing on the game. If he can keep the scoreboard against the leggie moving it would give the likes of de Kock or Rossouw or Miller  complete and utter license to go ballistic.

4) Wayne Parnell vs Aaron Finch/Glenn Maxwell – the left-arm seamer was the Protea bowler to make an impression versus the home-side with his two scalps. When in good form he’s swing the bowl at a decent clip. Instead of Kagiso Rabada he could share the new ball with pacer Kyle Abbott. If he can send back the hard-hitting Finch early it ‘ll be a bad blow for the Australians. On Friday he was the bowler not to go for runs. He conceded only 17 runs in his 3.4 overs and had two wickets as well. Finch and Watson were forced to play him carefully while at the other the end went hammer and tongs. Parnell is the sort who can trouble Maxwell with his swing. If he can claim Maxwell’s wicket early the Proteas will be cock-a-hoop because of the former’s fast-growing reputation as one of the cleanest hitters inthe game.

In the last game Aaron Finch saw to it his side would have no difficulty in chasing down 102. He hasn’t been in the best of form barring his 44 in the last game. However it’s only a matter of time before he’s back to his best, this is the same man who had bludgeoned 156 off 63 in a T20 match against England. His side would welcome him taking Parnell for runs. The left-arm seamer is the most experienced bowler in this line-up. If he’s taken for runs it mat deflating attack on the Proteas. The marauding Maxwell has shown he can take any bowler to the cleaners. On Sunday if Maxwell can shatter Parnell’s confidence South Africa would think they are short of options.

5) Kyle Abbott vs Shane Watson — The burly Australian all-rounder going up against the huge South African pacer. Watson, especially, in the shorter formats of the game is known for muscling balls in the stands. A quickfire 47 and 30 show he’s been decent ever since his return. Watson is a fine batsman who in full flow can dismember any attack. Here he can have a bad impact on the inexperienced Protea line-up. He can take full toll on Abbott and wrest the initiative from the tourists.

Abbott can generate very steep bounce at a good pace. He would be looking push Watson on the backfoot and frustrate him maybe. He could then maybe induce miscued shot which could bring about Watson downfall. The Australian all-rounder’s wicket will be a crucial one. If he’s out early the Proteas would be pleased as punch.

Complete coverage of South Africa’s tour of Australia 2014-15

(Indrajit Dutta is a reporter with CricketCountry. He is also a published poet and author. His Twitter handle is @duttaindro)