TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
Never in their 10 previous bilateral one-day series against Australia have SA clinched the rubber at the first opportunity.
That also means Australia have never been so deep in trouble against SA as they are in the current series, in which they have been beaten in the first two games.
Another win for the home side at Kingsmead on Wednesday will settle the issue as well as add a footnote to the history between the two teams.
Of those 10 previous series each side have won four with two drawn. So the winners of this rubber will edge ahead.
SA, then, are keeping their eye on a big prize.
Despite the absence of AB de Villiers, who is out with an elbow injury, and Hashim Amla, who missed the first match with flu and was overlooked for the second, they have swept aside the No. 1 team in the format.
That seems to have done wonders for the confidence of Rilee Rossouw, who didn’t hesitate to throw down the gauntlet on Tuesday.
“If (Australia) don’t bounce back then they don’t deserve to be the best team in the world,” Rossouw told reporters in Durban.
He did temper that with, “I am sure they will come out fighting with big swings and it’s all up to us how we are going to counterpunch them”, and “Australia are the best team in the world: if you give them a sniff, they come back hard”.
But then he was back on the campaign trail: “We want to finish this series (on Wednesday).”
Even the De Villiers shaped hole that looms at the heart of SA’s team didn’t scare Rossouw.
“We’ve come to terms with it – there’s no AB and we need to put in a performance. The guys are more than mentally ready to do such a job.”
And that, mind, from someone who is in the squad only because De Villiers isn’t.
Not that Rossouw’s bullishness should surprise anyone.
He drilled 63 off 45 balls at Centurion on Friday – which was good enough for the selectors to pull rank on captain Faf du Plessis and coach Russell Domingo, who wanted Amla back for the game at the Wanderers on Sunday.
Rossouw played instead, and repaid that faith by scoring 75.
Deliver like that and you won’t be short of self-belief.
But there’s no keeping a light as bright as Amla’s under a bushel for too long.
His bearded brilliance will, surely, be in the mix on Wednesday.
“If Hashim comes back and I am playing I will probably slot into the middle order,” Rossouw said.
“It’s a tough gig because if you are not performing there’s a guy that can do the same job as you, if not better.
“When you put on that shirt you want to do your best because you know there’s someone else who can take your spot.”
As for those who question why he played and Amla didn’t on Sunday …
“When we had our team culture camp we spoke about our playing bubble,” Rossouw said.
“The public can say what they want to say, as long as it doesn’t affect how we are going about our proceedings and how we play and our future.”
So far, so very good.