key-battles

50-over champions Australia started the West Indies Tri-Nation Series 2016 on a winning note as they outplayed the hosts by 6 wickets. However, they were at the doorstep of defeat against South Africa in the next match. Farhaan Behardien’s fighting knock helped South Africa post 189 runs on the scoreboard. In reply, Australia lost wickets in quick succession, as Kagiso Rabada and co. ran through the top order and bundled out the Aussies for 142 in just 34.2 overs. After a three-day break, these two teams will lock horns at Basseterre, St Kitts on Saturday. Let’s have a look at the key battles that are sure to heighten the intensity of the match: FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs South Africa, Tri-Nations Series, Match 4 at Basseterre

AB de Villiers vs Adam Zampa: The third highest run-scorer of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016 has faced 87 delivers and couldn’t plunder a single boundary, de Villiers has not come into his own in the 50-over format. He is the only batsmen to score 8,000-plus runs and maintain a strike-rate of over 90. And, in this series, his strike-rate reads 60. Undoubtedly, a big score is due from him.

The Guyana’s track offered a lot for the spinners. When de Villiers faced Adam Zampa in the previous match, he couldn’t break the shackles. He, in fact, was pressing forward and blocking the ball. He didn’t show signs of aggression. However, St. Kitts’ track is considered batsman-friendly. Plus, the ground is smaller in size. Will de Villiers take Zampa to the cleaners or Zampa get the better of de Villiers with his leg-breaks, is a question only time can answer. Read – Predictions and Preview: Aussies will look to return to winning ways

David Warner vs Kagiso Rabada: The 21-year-old Rabada’s figures in the previous match read 7-1-13-3. He dismantled Usman Khawaja’s defence, and also dismissed Mathew Wade and Nathan Coulter-Nile in consecutive overs to put the Proteas in a commanding position.

It was Warner’s unbeaten 55 that took Australia over in the line against the might of Sunil Narine. But, he failed to continue his good form in the next match against the Proteas, managing to score only 1. Had he been at the crease with Aaron Finch going all guns blazing at the other end, the result would have been in Australia’s favour.

Whil Rabada has the knack of getting the lateral movement, Warner struggles to tackle it. It would be interesting to see whether Warner attacks or plays cautiously against him. READ: Steven Smith shows faith in Glenn Maxwell

Quinton de Kock vs Josh Hazlewood: Hazlewood made early inroads by angling the ball in round the stumps, trapping de Kock in front. In fact, his 2 for 20 was the second best spell by an Australia pacer in terms of economy. de Kock, on the other hand, would look to avenge it and get back to winning ways.

Steven Smith vs Imran Tahir: Smith’s habit of shuffling across can prove costly against Imran Tahir’s quick leg-cutters. While Smith accumulated only 2 runs, Tahir scalped two wickets and conceded only 39 runs in the last match.

Captain AB would introduce his go-to bowler Tahir when Smith comes to bat in order to trap him in front with wrong ‘uns. READ: Tri-nation series 2016: South Africa’s Rilee Rossouw ruled out

Glenn Maxwell vs Tabraiz Shamsi: The ‘Big Show’ from Australia will face off with the slow left-arm chinaman. Maxwell hasn’t been at his lethal best of late, be it at international level or in IPL 9. Shamsi, on the other hand, has taken the cricketing world by storm with his wily spin bowling.

Given Maxwell has a reputation of spanking maximums against the spinners, Shamsi will be purposely pit against him. Maxwell might either clear the ropes with ease or hole out at the boundary line.

(Kaustubh S. Mayekar, a reporter at CricketCountry, played cricket at U-16 level. Like his idol Rahul Dravid, he often shadow-practises cricket shots. His Twitter handle is @kaumedy_)