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South Africa v Australia 1st T20I preview: Unfamiliar Aussies aim to impress

Australia head into their limited-overs tour of South Africa shorn of a number of leading stars, with the action kicking off with the first T20I at Kingsmead in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The likes of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Cameron Green, David Warner, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell are also absent due to injury or being rested.

That means that there are opportunities for a number of new faces, with Spencer Johnson, Aaron Hardie and Matt Short all hoping to make their T20 bows for the Baggy Greens against the Proteas.

The other major talking point sees all-rounder Mitch Marsh captain the side in the absence of Cummins, who is recovering from a wrist injury.

WhatSouth Africa v Australia, 1st T20I
WhereKingsmead, Durban
When01:00 (AEST), Thursday 31st August
How to watchFoxtel, Kayo

Batting options look limited

With Smith and Warner not in South Africa and Marnus Labuschagne omitted from the 20-over party, there is a lack of experience in the batting options available to Marsh, although they late call-up of Matthew Wade does help in that department.

Newcomer Short looks set to get an opportunity to impress at the top of the order, having made 458 runs during the most recent BBL season, as well as taking 11 wickets with his handy off-spin.

That sort of ability makes him an ideal successor to Maxwell, who was a late withdrawal from this series due to an ankle injury picked up in training.

There are no shortage of all-round options in the Aussie squad, while of the out-and-out bowlers, Spencer Johnson gets an opportunity to see how his tearaway left-armers go on the international stage.

Proteas also rest big names

Hosts South Africa have taken a very similar path to Australia for this series, with the upcoming 50-over World Cup in India very much the main focus.

Quinton de Kock, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada are all rested for the T20 action, with batters Matthew Breetzke, Donovan Ferreira and Dewald Brevis looking to make their international debuts.

Brevis is perhaps the most exciting call-up, having been the leading runscorer at the Under-19 World Cup last year, earning him the tag of 'Baby AB' in some quarters.

Experienced batters Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen are recalled after being dropped for the 20-over series against West Indies earlier this year, meaning that the hosts have a number of batters eager to prove their worth.

Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj returns after injury, but he will definitely not be involved in the series opener in Durban.

T20 record a close affair

The Proteas have faced Australia 13 times in T20Is in South Africa, with the head-to-head record reading six victories to the hosts and seven to the Baggy Greens, with the latter winning six of the last eight.

The two sides have met twice in 20-over action at Kingsmead and it is a win apiece, with the 2014 clash reduced to just seven overs a side due to rain, with the tourists getting home by five wickets with two balls to spare.

In 2016 a much more regular T20I saw Australia make 157-9, with now skipper Marsh whacking 35 from 25 balls, before also taking a wicket in a fine all-round performance.

However, that was not quite enough to secure victory, as left-hander Miller blasted 53 not out from 35 deliveries to take the hosts home with four balls in hand.

South Africa and Australia have not played each other in a T20I in South Africa since February 2020, while they last met in this format in Australia way back in November 2018.

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