Durban (South Africa) – South Africa and Australia will be seeking to find their best combinations when they meet in three Twenty20 internationals, shortly before both sides travel to India for the World Twenty20 tournament.
Australia appear to have the most uncertainties. They were beaten 3-0 at home by India in their most recent T20 series and the selectors made several significant changes in picking a squad for South Africa and the global event.
Steve Smith was handed the captaincy, making him the leader in all three formats, while the squad includes three players who have yet to play in a T20 international — wicketkeeper Peter Nevill, left-arm spinner Ashton Agar and leg-spinner Adam Zampa.
While Nevill has established himself as Australia’s Test wicketkeeper, Agar, Zampa and fast bowler Andrew Tye are virtual novices at international level.
Agar has played in two Tests and two one-day internationals, famously hitting 98 at number 11 on Test debut in the 2013 Ashes.
Zampa made his debut and played in two one-day internationals in New Zealand last month. Tye played in only two T20 internationals against India.
Australia have a strong batting line-up, however, although this too could be problematical in terms of deciding on the best combination.
South Africa won two T20 internationals against England last month and will be strengthened by the returns of fast bowler Dale Steyn and wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock.
Steyn played in a club match in Cape Town last weekend and took five wickets for 13 runs in two five-over spells spread over two innings.
Steyn, 32, has missed most of the international season because of a groin injury suffered in the first Test against India in November and a shoulder injury in the first Test against England in December.
He said after his club outing that he had been ready to play for the past three weeks and was eager to get into action against the Australians.
De Kock was rested from the T20 series against England because of what was described as a minor knee injury. The selectors will have to decide which two out of De Kock, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla will open the batting. The latter pair effectively won the second match against England with a century partnership.
The series is a repeat of the 2013/14 season when the two sides met in South Africa shortly before the 2014 World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. Australia won convincingly and looked strong contenders for the world crown.
But form in the warm-up series proved illusory. Australia won only one out of three matches in Bangladesh and failed to reach the knock-out stage, while South Africa reached the semi-finals.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wkt), AB de Villiers (wkt), JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.
Australia: Steve Smith (captain), Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill (wkt), Andrew Tye, David Warner, Shane Watson, Adam Zampa.
Friday 4, Durban
Sunday 6, Johannesburg
Wednesday 9, Cape Town