Ireland are one win away from their biggest ODI achievement on home soil. Victory over South Africa in the third ODI will be the first time they take a series off a team ranked in the top eight, the first time they beat a top eight team in successive matches, and their first series win in their last six, since beating Zimbabwe in July 2019.
It would also put them in third place on the World Cup Super League table, behind England and Bangladesh. Though Ireland will have played more games than anyone besides England, sitting in that spot will revive their hopes of automatic qualification for 2023.
On the other side, South Africa can only go up into 10th spot, ahead of their next scheduled opponents, Netherlands and will know that if they don’t take all available points from this next game, qualification could become tricky. The World Cup Super League promised us context, and context it has delivered.
To their credit, the touring party have not used the situation back home as an excuse for their performance on Tuesday – at present South Africa is gripped by violent unrest, particularly in the provinces of Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng, where several players in the current squad are based, and have friends and family. Still, they will have to try and put thoughts of these weighty matters aside when they take the field because this is a match of great consequence.
South Africa LLWLW
In the spotlight
Harry Tector played what his captain called the “innings of the day”, in the second ODI when he notched up a career-best 79* off 68 balls to lead Ireland’s acceleration. Tector has now scored two fifties in his last three ODI innings and is building steadily on a career that began with a duck against England in Southampton last year. He is a clean hitter with a solid temperament and seems to relish the big occasion. He was hit on the chin when he ducked into an Anrich Nortje delivery on Tuesday, and that spurred him on to finish strongly. He is just 21 years old and Ireland will see in him a long-term prospect for the future.
South Africa’s death bowling has been under scrutiny throughout the series in West Indies and is back in the spotlight again. The three quicks, Kagiso Rabada and/or (depending on who is in the team) Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi and Andile Phehlukwayo, tend to do most of the bowling in the last period and have struggled to find the right lengths. Yorkers are absent, full tosses abound and although there is some evidence of variation in pace, it is not as effective as South Africa may intend. Phehlukwayo, in particular, is a concern. He was once seen as South Africa’s best option at the end of innings, but his last two overs in the previous match cost 26.
Ireland will wait on the fitness of William Porterfield, who missed the second match with a finger injury. If he is unable to play, Andy Balbirnie, who scored a century opening the batting in the previous game, will likely continue in that role. Curtis Campher, if he plays, will be as a specialist batter only as he makes his comeback from ankle surgery but may still bat below George Dockrell, also playing as a batter, though he bowled seven overs in the last match.
Ireland: (possible) 1 Paul Stirling, 2 Andy Balbirnie (capt), 3 Andy McBrine, 4 Harry Tector, 5 George Dockrell, 6 Mark Adair, 7 Curtis Campher, 8 Lorcan Tucker (wk), 9 Simi Singh, 10 Josh Little, 11 Craig Young
Quinton de Kock was rested for the first two matches but is expected to return for the series finale. South Africa are also expected to make changes to their attack with Lizaad Williams, who was their top performer against Pakistan earlier in the year, likely to come into the team in place of either the second spinner, Keshav Maharaj, or one of the quicks.
South Africa (possible): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Janneman Malan, 3 Temba Bavuma (capt), 4 Rassie van der Dussen, 5 Kyle Verreynne, 6 David Miller, 7 Andile Phehlukwayo, 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Anrich Nortje, 10 Lizaad Williams, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi
Pitch and conditions
As has been the case in the previous two matches, seam movement is expected early but run-scoring should become easier as the day goes on. With small boundaries, a total around the 300-mark would be considered par. It’s set to be a balmy day in Dublin, with temperatures in the early 20 degrees, high humidity and only a small chance of rain.
Stats and trivia
Ireland have only won two ODI series against Full Members: 3-0 against Zimbabwe in July 2019 and 2-1 against Afghanistan in December 2017.
Quinton de Kock is 28 runs away from 10,000 international runs as a wicket-keeper.
“He has got reason to be irritated. It’s something we spoke about in the West Indies. It was a case of game plans going wrong, guys trying too many things at the back end. It’s a quick turnaround and we need to fix it.”
South Africa’s bowling coach Charl Langeveldt understands why captain Temba Bavuma was unhappy with his bowlers after they leaked 95 runs in the last 10 overs in the second ODI.