It seems that every time these teams go head to head there’s a No. 1 ranking up for grabs. Nothing has changed. South Africa took the top ODI spot thanks to their 4-1 victory in Australia in January but to retain their new status they need to stop Australia winning this five-game series. They will feel quietly confident with their star batsmen Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis set to return from injuries that kept them out of the two Twenty20 matches, which South Africa won in any case.
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This series is the finale in what has been a fascinating summer between these two sides, who by the end will feel as if they know each other intimately after six Tests, 10 ODIs and four Twenty20 internationals in the past four months. The hosts have no more cricket on the agenda until the World Twenty20 in England in June, so this will be the last opportunity for a few players to put their names forward for that tournament. Australia will head straight from South Africa to the United Arab Emirates for a limited-overs series against Pakistan.