Australia have won two and lost two matches in the tr-nation series © AFP
Australia have won two and lost two matches in the tri-nation series © AFP

Australia and South Africa will collide for the final time in the seventh One-Day International (ODI) of the tri-nation series at Barbados. South Africa are at top of the table with 10 points from four matches, thanks to two wins with bonus points. Australia also have two wins, but are second on table with nine points. The first time these two teams met in this series, South Africa came atop, winning the game by 47 runs. But Australia avenged their loss the very next match, winning the fixture by 36 runs. The other team in the series are hosts West Indies, who have eight points from four matches. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs South Africa, Tri-Nation series 7th ODI at Barbados

Australia’s previous fixture saw them defeated by West Indies. Despite posting a decent 265 on the board, they were comfortably beaten. A win in this match for Australia will almost confirm their place in the final. With much at stake, we have a look at the probable XI for Australia against South Africa.

Top Order: In the absence of David Warner, the opening pair is a straightforward decision for Australia. Usman Khawaja showed his quality coming as an opener in the last game, scoring 98 against West Indies. His partner in crime will be Aaron Finch, who has blown hot and cold in this series. Barring a 72 in the loss against South Africa, he is yet to get going.

At No. 3, it will be skipper Steven Smith. In the period when Warner was fit, Smith was played at No. 4, which wasn’t his favorite. Coming at 3, the Australian skipper has a lot of time in the middle and can anchor his innings.

Middle Order: Former skipper George Bailey backed the selector’s call to play him ahead of Glenn Maxwell with a brilliant half-century in the last game. One of those players who has always been in and out of the playing XI, Bailey has a chance to cement his place in the team. After him, it will be interesting to see whether Travis Head is given another chance or Glenn Maxwell is recalled to the side. Both Head and Maxwell are aggressive batsmen, who love to play their shots. But with the ability to bowl 6-7 overs of decent of off-spin, Maxwell may just edge the spot.

At No.6, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh is a certainty to start, despite being a disappointment till now in the series. He has yet to get a significant score or perform with the ball. Considering he is the designated all-rounder in the side, the Aussie camp will be expecting much more from him. Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade will be the final player to slot in the middle-order. He will be expected to play a knock like he did against South Africa in his side’s win. A quickfire 20-30 is what is expected of him.

Lower Order: The bowling department of Australia has been their strength throughout the series. While Mitchell Starc has only played two games, he caused devastation in both the outings. Having been rested in the last fixture, he is a certainty to return. He will be supported by pace duo of Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Coulter-Nile. The former has featured in all the four games, scalping five wickets. As for Coulter-Nile, he has four wickets in his two outings. The spin choice is expected to be Adam Zampa, considering his displays in the series. While Nathan Lyon is a seasoned player, the threat posed by Zampa is something Australia may not let go from their hands.

Probable Australia XI: Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith (c), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell/Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood

(R Narayan is a reporter with CricketCountry, and is an ardent cricket and football enthusiast (big Manchester United fan). Having followed cricket since 2003, he likes high scoring matches as well as good fast bowling. His Twitter handle is @RNarayan24nov)