South Africa v Ireland – ODI – Willowmoore Park, Benoni at 09:00 live on Sky Sports 2
Ireland have pleaded with the ICC for the best part of a decade to be given more fixtures against the major, full playing nations of world cricket. The odd ODI here and there at home against neighbours England and the side that happens to be touring the UK each summer isn’t really enough though to push home the case of the plucky Irish, who have upset the likes of Pakistan, England and West Indies in the last three ODI World Cups. Small credit is deserved to South Africa and fellow touring side, Australia, who have agreed to each play Ireland in an official ODI in Benoni this week.
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South Africa play their first ODI since failing to qualify for the tri-series final staged in the West Indies where Australia again made up the trio. The Ireland team’s last match saw them go all out for 82 at home to a Pakistan side who had racked up 337. Previously a 2-2 draw at home to fellow Associate giants Afghanistan had followed a 2-0 defeat to Sri Lanka – in which Ireland lost heavily – this despite passing 200 in each unsuccessful run chase.
Sunshine and temperatures in the mid-twenties will welcome the two sides in Benoni. A sub 5% chance of showers will be welcome news for the Irish who often see bad weather impact what little matches they are awarded at home against the major nations.
Willowmoore Park, Benoni has hosted 19 ODI’s since 1997, with the majority played out between Associate nations such as Canada, Afghanistan, Scotland and Ireland.
Here is a list of the last seven ODI scores at Benoni –
205, 399, 295, 295, 252, 220, 232 – Average 271
First Innings Runs
South Africa have batted first in seven completed ODI’s since the start of their India tour last year. Here is a list of their scores when batting first –
343, 189, 188, 262, 438, 270, 303 – Average 284
Ireland have batted first in three completed ODI’s since the end of the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Here are there scores when batting first –
265, 268, 219 – Average 250
With Hashim Amla rested for the Ireland ODI and Rillee Rossouw injured, it is hard to predict who will be de Kock’s (below) opening partner. David Miller or returning skipper AB de Villiers are the two most likely to get the gig before Amla returns for the Australia matches that follow. Captain de Villiers had to sit out the Test win against New Zealand and returns to take back the reigns from Faf du Plessis, who averages over 40 in his 91 ODI’s.
Temba Bavuma is likely to get his first try in coloured clothing for South Africa after 11 Tests – the talented middle order bat made 117 for the Lions in his last List A match several weeks ago. All-rounder Dwaine Pretorius looks set for a debut after a string of matches for South Africa A and is in possession of an impressive domestic one day career. In 39 matches he averages 37 with the bat and 24 with the ball. Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell are likely to lead the seam attack with the former having taken a brilliant 37 wickets at an average of 21 in his ODI career so far. The final spot will either go to spinner Aaron Phangiso or debutant quick Andile Phehlukwayo.
Ireland will be led by William Porterfield who will be keen to rediscover the form which saw him score a World Cup ton in Adelaide against Pakistan. Since then he’s only passed 25 once in 13 innings, dismissed for single figures on 7 occasions. The skipper could slide up the order as Ed Joyce is missing in action – expect Paul Stirling to give it a whack upfront as usual – the Middlesex man has a SR of 92 in his 69 ODI’s. Niall and Kevin O’Brien are two brothers with very different, but effective batting styles. Kevin has now played over 100 matches for Ireland in this format and averages 31 with bat and ball. Wicket-keeper Gary Wilson has just left Surrey for Derbyshire and is likely to play as a batsman only here with Niall O’Brien wearing the gloves.
Wilson is a better player than his ODI average of 25 and SR of 72 suggests. All-rounder Andy McBrine has a top score of 79 alongside 14 career wickets in his 16 matches whilst the seam attack will have to do without quick Boyd Rankin. Tim Murtagh will play for Middlesex in their county championship finale, before joining the squad on the even of the match. The 35 year-old canny seamer has 25 wickets in this format and an economy of 4.5 per over. Barry McCarthy took 4-62 in the Dublin defeat to Pakistan last month – the only ray of light in what was a rare poor day for Porterfield’s street wise Irish side.
Ones to Watch
Fresh from getting married in Mauritius last week, Quinton de Kock will continue to open the batting for South Africa in ODI cricket. The wicket-keeper bat has scored a remarkable 10 centuries in just 63 matches in this format for his country and should enjoy the early season conditions in Benoni.
To contain sides at the death in ODI cricket you need wickets in that middle period. Slow-left-arm spin from George Dockrell will be crucial to Ireland‘s hopes in the field of limiting any end of innings chaos from the hosts. A career spanning 53 matches in this format has seen a hugely impressive economy rate of just 4.4 runs per over come of his bowling.
If South Africa bat first I recommend backing any OVER RUNS around the 295-300 mark.
If Ireland bat first I recommend backing any UNDER RUNS around the 245-250 mark.
Top Batsman Market
de Kock looks too short at 3.25 despite his magic ODI record. Instead let us take a punt on David Miller who (might) open the batting for South Africa. Back him at 7.0.
Niall O’Brien looks the stand out value to top score for Ireland at 6.50.
Prices correct at time of writing.