T20 opener washed out in PE

Constant rain saw match abandoned overnight

Australia’s opening T20 match against South Africa at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth has been abandoned due to constant rain. 

Play was cancelled shortly before 4pm local time after it was agreed that no chance of play was foreseeable. 

George Bailey’s side will now face Faf du Plessis’ Proteas in Durban on Wednesday evening (3am AEDT), before moving on to Centurion, venue of Australia’s thumping first Test win, for their final match of the tour.

Coach Darren Lehmann has stated in his blog that his side will chop and change throughout the series, giving game time to the entire squad in search of the perfect mix for Bangladesh.

Four members of the successful Test tour are included in the 15-man squad aiming for Australia’s first World T20 title, though Mitchell Johnson will miss the series, rested by Cricket Australia, and will meet up with the group in Dhaka.

Star opening batsman Aaron Finch believes the rankings aren’t a true indicator of who the form T20 sides are, but a three-nil series win would move Australia up two places to 4th.

Finch is Australia’s highest-ranked T20I batsman at No.3 in the world, and is one player Bailey believes can light up the World T20 if all goes to plan.

“If he has the tournament we think, I think he can be the best T20 batter in the world.”

High praise from a man who’s going pretty well himself at the moment, notching scores of 60 not out, 49 not out, 32 not out and 58 from his last four T20 matches.

Bailey also says Mitchell Starc is the man who should be feared by opposition batsmen, after the left-armer outperformed his peers in the 2012 edition of the tournament.

Australia boast a throng of allrounders in their squad, with no less than six players impacting the game with either discipline.

Hardest to ignore is the 2012 World T20 player of the tournament Shane Watson. So dominant was his campaign he’d essentially wrapped up the award after four games, taking out man-of-the-match honours in each, and at one stage topping both the runs and wickets tallies.

James Faulkner is returning from a knee injury he suffered late in the Australian summer, so it might be up to his Melbourne Stars team-mate Glenn Maxwell to steal the show.

Fetching over AUD$1 million at this year’s IPL auction, ‘The Big Show’ knows Subcontinental conditions better than most, and will look to take on the spinners over cover and point, most likely with the reversed shots he favours.

The inaugural World T20 was played in South Africa where India were crowned champions, defeating Pakistan in the final.

Australia had a poor tournament then and haven’t much improved their T20 record in the Rainbow Nation since. From 11 games, they have tasted victory on just four occasions.

The hosts on the other hand have a sensational record at home, winning 19 of 29 matches.  Their record overall is also superior to Australia’s, winning five more matches and playing four less games (SA 39 from 63; Aus 34 from 67).

With spin expected to play a significant part in Bangladesh, both sides have opted for two specialist tweakers, along with allrounders who can chip in with some handy overs.

The Proteas will rely on Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso to do the bulk of the slow work with assistance from JP Duminy.

Australia have two wrist-spinners at the opposite end of the age spectrum: 43-year-old Chinaman Brad Hogg and the man 23 years his junior, leg-spinner James Muirhead.

They’ll be supported by Maxwell , Cameron White and Finch, and perhaps even Brad Hodge.

The Test series provided drama right till the last ball (well, almost) and this T20 series should prove no different, as two evenly-matched sides warm-up before flexing their muscles in Bangladesh.