Oz-SA rivalry to resume

2014-11-13 10:28
Michael Clarke (Gallo)

Perth - South Africa and Australia will resume a their increasingly antagonistic rivalry in a five-match one-day cricket series starting on Friday, which should bolster the winner's confidence ahead of next year's Cricket World Cup.

Australia took a 2-1 win from the recent Twenty20 series between the teams, but principal protagonists in recent on-field clashes between players didn't take part in those matches.

South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn and Australia captain Michael Clarke clashed angrily during the third Test at Cape Town in March and ill-feeling over that incident resurfaced when the teams met in a tri-series in Zimbabwe in September.

Their reunion in the first match at Perth's WACA ground on Friday may add an edge to a series in which stakes are already high.

Leading South Africa batsman Faf du Plessis said he expected the coming series to be hard-fought, but not bitter.

"That's the great thing about playing Australia, you expect that," du Plessis said. "We play a very similar style of cricket on the field. We're competitive. We like to get into each other's faces, that's just the way we play our cricket.

"There's a lot of respect for the two teams. It's just competitive, we want to do anything to win the game and so do they."

South Africa is ranked second and Australia third behind India in the world limited-overs rankings, and their last meeting in a one-day series before the World Cup offers the chance for one to gain a psychological advantage over the other.

The Proteas recently beat New Zealand 2-0 in a one-day series in New Zealand and a win over Australia, the other World Cup host, would raise hopes they may be ready to overcome a history of moderate performances in world tournaments.

Du Plessis became a target for on-field sledging in recent matches after he said Australian fieldsmen came at him "like a pack of dogs" during the Cape Town test.

Du Plessis's has become a prized wicket for Australia after he scored two centuries in the last six one-day matches between the teams and a 96, which helped South Africa win the final of the Zimbabwe tri-series.

Du Plessis acknowledged the World Cup significance of the coming series but said "winning is also important and this will be a very good challenge for us playing Australia in their home conditions.

"We'll probably play them in a semifinal or something like that in the World Cup."

He said South Africa's past failure in World Cups would not haunt the current team.

"In the past we went to a World Cup where we probably weren't the best side," he said. "People judge you on not winning the World Cup but at the time we weren't the best team in the tournament. This time I feel we've got a really good side and we've been winning, so everything is stacking up nicely for us now."

Read more on:    dale steyn  |  michael clarke  |  cricket

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