4th over: Australia 14-1 (Finch 3, Marsh 2)
Shaun Marsh to the crease, now that his own crease issues have been ironed out. Looks a little uncomfortable against the first couple outside off stump, then edges two runs. Ngidi finishes up with a yorker. Yet again the early wicket for Australia.
How on God’s green earth does a team review that? Ngidi had Travis Head dead to rights. Around the wicket, not from very wide, pitching just outside off, hitting the pad in front of middle halfway up. Smashing middle stump on the DRS replay. What a waste of the review, that was as clear as they come. Nothing too special about the delivery, just missed a straight one that maybe did a touch. Ngidi had a touch of the Philanders with an appeal that was more celebration than question, but he did eventually twist his back so he was at least facing the umpire.
3rd over: Australia 12-0 (Finch 3, Head 8)
Top shelf stuff from Steyn. He utterly works over Finch with that set, beating the outside edge on three occasions. Doesn’t get the wicket, somehow, does get the maiden.
2nd over: Australia 12-0 (Finch 3, Head 8)
Not such a good start from Lungi Ngidi. A bit of width, and Head forces one off the back foot for four, then crashes another away with the cover drive. In the meantime, Finch nearly runs himself out at the non-striker’s end bolting for a single. He’s had five starts as the new white-ball captain so far, Finch, for five single-figure scores. Nearly made it six there.
1st over: Australia 2-0 (Finch 2, Head 0)
Away goes Dale Steyn, and he starts it nicely. A yorker driven back to him on the bounce, an outswinger that takes the thick edge, an in-ducker that hits Finch in front but high. The Australians survive.
The teams: fast bowling cartels on both sides.
The pressure on those Australian batsmen from the outset. Faf du Plessis, the South African captain, happy to apply it.
Get set, everybody. We’re on our way. So said the band Taxiride in 1999. Whether they were talking about a record Australian losing streak in one-day cricket we’ll never know. In fact it’s already a record for Australia, the streak standing at seven losses. That’s part of 10 losses in 11 matches, and 19 losses in the last 21. But the streak could become eight today. Or can they snap it?
South Africa is the opponent, Adelaide is the venue. Australia won here against England earlier in the year but looked very ropey doing it, nearly bowled out chasing a paltry target. That tells the story of the past couple of years: the bowling has been decent (aside from conceding a world-record score against England in June) but the batting has been frail. There are no overnight solutions to that.
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