Australia captain Aaron Finch has confirmed his side will only play four specialist bowlers in their opening match of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign while South Africa has received a key fitness boost.
Australia face South Africa in the first match of the Super 12 stage at 2pm local time in Abu Dhabi, with both teams intent on getting off to winning starts in a group featuring five Test playing nations.
With both teams blessed with deep all-rounder, fast-bowler and tweaker stocks, the selectors will have a key role to play throughout the tournament.
Finch confirmed Australia had settled on their XI for the match on Friday, and hinted at the make-up of the side.
“We're going with seven specialist batters, four specialist bowlers, plus the all-rounders,” he said.
“We've got a lot of confidence in the depth of our squad. We've got a lot of confidence in Maxwell, Stoinis, and Marsh to be able to bowl in four overs as well.”
Given that conditions are likely to favour the tweakers and their strength as a combination, you can expect both Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa to play leaving just two spots for the fast-bowling quartet of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Kane Richardson.
Finch has played both Australia’s warm-up matches, proving his fitness after undergoing knee surgery earlier in the year.
His opposite number, Temba Bavuma, has similarly returned to action after suffering a broken thumb in September.
Bavuma’s return is a boost for the Proteas and in a further boon to their hopes, the captain confirmed star spinner Tabraiz Shamsi was ready to go as well.
“On my side, the fitness is good,” Bavuma said. “I obviously managed to get through the two games unscathed. The handheld up nicely, so I'm all good to go.
“Shamsi as well, I understand that he's also good to go. He did pass his fitness test today. So he's good. I'm good as well.”
Unlike the Australians, South Africa had not settled on an XI the day out from the match, mulling over playing three spinners or an extra batter.
“We've considered both,” he said. “We haven't finalised it as yet, or the selectors haven't finalised as yet.
“Obviously, looking at the squad, if we do decide to go the slower bowlers route, we do have those guys at our disposal. If we do decide to go with an extra bowler, extra batter, we do have that.
“From what I understand, the selectors are still deciding on that.”
Both Australia and South Africa are chasing their first Men’s T20 World Cup trophy.