Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
3 minute read
23 Oct 2021
7:30 am

South Africa v Australia at the T20 World Cup: The game changers

Ross Roche

Who will stand out in the opening game on Saturday and swing the match his team's way?

Captain Temba Bavuma, middle, will rely heavily on key Proteas players Tabraiz Shamsi, left, and Kagiso Rabada, right, in the match against Australia at the T20 World Cup on Saturday. Picture: Seb Daly/Gallo Images

The Proteas and Australia kick off their T20 World Cup campaigns with a blockbuster game against each other at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, with both aiming to get up and running with a win.

The match could come down to each side’s game changing players to decide who emerges victorious in the end.

Here are three Proteas and three Aussies that could make a major impact in the match.

Proteas

Tabraiz Shamsi

He is the number one ranked T20 bowler in the world for a reason and Shamsi will be integral in the Proteas pursuit of a maiden World Cup. It is still up in the air if he will feature against the Aussies after he was pulled from the field during the team’s final warm up game against Pakistan due to a tightness in his groin.

But if he is fully fit he will feature and Shamsi’s canny bowling could make the difference in a tight match, with his impressive wicket taking ability and good economy rate.

Rassie van der Dussen

A large hole has been left in the Proteas middle order after they decided not to take Faf du Plessis to the showpiece event and Van der Dussen will need to be the man to fill it.

Often seen as a bit of a slow starter he showed his ruthlessness in the final warm up match against Pakistan, slamming a brilliant hundred, ending unbeaten on 101 off 51 balls and he will need to put in a similar performance to give the Proteas the edge against the Aussies.

Kagiso Rabada

He has not been in the greatest of form of late, but maybe the world stage is the perfect opportunity for Rabada to bounce back in style. Despite not being at his ruthless best Rabada is still seen as one of the world’s premier fast bowlers and will need to be back to his best to help lead the Proteas through a tough pool.

He showed a glimpse of a return to form with solid figures of 3/28 in the warm up game against Pakistan and Rabada will be fired up for a game against big rivals Australia.

Australia

Glenn Maxwell

Australia’s T20 form has left a lot to be desired of late and their performance in the World Cup could fall on the shoulders of mercurial all-rounder Maxwell. He had an immense IPL campaign and will be carrying that form straight into the World Cup.

His devastating batting in the middle order and ability to bowl wherever is needed, be it in the powerplay or in the middle overs, will be important in giving the side much needed variation. Maxwell is the definition of a game changing match winner.

Aaron Finch

The veteran Aussie skipper will play an integral role in the team’s efforts at the World Cup. He will need to lead from the front at the top of the order and faces the tough job of trying to get the best from the out of form David Warner.

However with a T20I average of 37.46 and a strike rate of over 150, Finch is a devastating batter in his own right and if he can help his fellow opening partner get back to form, it could make a massive difference in any game.

Pat Cummins

Key to the success at the World Cup could be the form of Aussie quick Cummins. He has not played too much cricket of late and comes into the showpiece event undercooked, but if he fires on all cylinders Australia will be in a strong position.

There is no substitute for express pace and he will be looking to eke as much out of the slow pitches of the UAE and Oman as possible, while his power hitting down the order could help the Aussies out in a pinch.