South African bowler Dale Steyn should be fit to face Australia.
South African bowler Dale Steyn should be fit to face Australia. Themba Hadebe

Proteas eyeing off weakened Aussie attack

CRICKET: South Africa will be looking for a much-needed shot in the arm when the five-match one-day international series against Australia gets under way at Centurion tonight.

The Proteas have so far endured a horrid 2016 in all forms of the game, which has seen them slide down the rankings, most alarmingly from first to sixth in Tests.

Now fourth in ODIs, they have lost six of their past 12 games, which is hardly the type of form they would like to take into a series against the world champions.

The visiting Australians, however, are fielding a weakened team, with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Shaun Marsh all at home either resting or nursing injuries.

Quick bowlers Dan Worrall, who made his ODI debut in the win over Ireland earlier this week, Chris Tremain and Joe Mennie will instead form an inexperienced bowling attack.

Former Australia and Proteas batsman Kepler Wessels says the hosts may be able to use that to their advantage.

"The inexperienced Australian seam attack is a certainly an area the Proteas can target,” Wessels wrote in a column for Supersport. "The Australian pace attack is workmanlike.

"In the absence of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, this young Australian attack has a pedestrian look about it. There is nothing dynamic about the Aussie quick men.

"The Aussies will rely heavily on their young leg-spinner, Adam Zampa. He prospered against Ireland (three wickets), but it remains to be seen how he will go against better players under South African conditions.”

While Australia cannot be toppled from its place at the top of the ODI rankings, South Africa can climb from fourth to second if successful against the tourists.

They go into the series without injured skipper AB de Villiers (elbow), but do get back star bowler Dale Steyn from an extended period on the sidelines.

A 5-0 or 4-1 margin will mean the home team moves to second, ahead of India (currently third) and New Zealand (currently second). A 3-2 series win will put South Africa in third.

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