South Africa draw level
South Africa were indebted to half-centuries from four of their top six and an excellent exhibition of pace bowling from Morne Morkel as they levelled the one-day series against Australia with an 80-run win in Port Elizabeth.
Dismissed for just 129 in a rain-affected opening match at Centurion on Wednesday, the hosts responded with an impressive batting performance after Hashim Amla had won the toss today.
The captain fell first ball, caught and bowled by Doug Bollinger, but fellow opener Graeme Smith returned to form with 57 and there were also significant contributions from Jacques Kallis, JP Duminy and David Miller, who hit 76, 56 and 59 respectively in a score of 303 for six.
Australia, hampered by a back injury to Shane Watson that forced the all-rounder out of the attack and down the batting order to number six, struggled to keep up with the required rate after the early dismissals of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke. They were dismissed for 223 from the final ball of the 50th over, despite 74 from an unusually subdued David Warner.
Morkel finished with 4-22 from 10 overs, his figures representing deserved reward for a fiery display on a pitch lacking in pace.
South Africa’s decision to bat first initially looked to have backfired when Amla, the number-one ranked batsman in ODI cricket, got a leading edge to the first ball of the match and provided Bollinger with a simple return catch.
However, a second-wicket stand of 142 between former skipper Smith and Kallis put the Proteas firmly on top.
Smith, who had struggled for form prior to this match, gradually grew in confidence with a series of drives through the off side, while Kallis appeared in excellent touch from the moment he arrived at the crease, emphasised by a hooked six off Mitchell Johnson in the second over.
Australia eventually made a second breakthrough in the 26th over when Steven Smith had his namesake caught behind off the glove as the left-hander looked to reverse sweep.
Kallis departed four balls later, run out by Clarke’s direct hit, and Francois du Plessis made just 12 before he was stumped during a probing spell from left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty.
Yet Duminy and Miller regained the initiative by sharing 107 in quick time.
Miller was aggressive from the outset, clubbing the second ball he faced, from Steven Smith, over long-off for six and dashing to 50 from 43 deliveries before falling to Pat Cummins.
Duminy had been largely content to deal in singles, but upped the ante following Miller’s departure and collected two maximums of his own. He was caught at midwicket off Bollinger in the final over, but by that stage South Africa had reached 300.
Warner and Ponting, opening in place of the injured Watson, began Australia’s chase with a flurry of boundaries, only for the latter to be caught at cover-point off Lonwabo Tsotsobe for 10.
Clarke then edged a beauty from Morkel to first slip and although Warner, dropped on 26 by Amla, and Mike Hussey put on 71, Australia’s progress slowed thereafter.
A superb piece of fielding from Johan Botha at short fine-leg removed Hussey, who survived two missed stumpings, for 37.
With Australia needing more than nine an over, Warner then top-edged an attempted pull off Morkel and was well caught by Boucher.
Wickets continued to tumble at regular intervals for the remainder of Australia’s innings - Duminy and du Plessis taking excellent catches on the boundary to account for Steven Smith and Brad Haddin respectively - and the result was beyond doubt long before Dale Steyn had Doherty caught by Duminy at point from the final ball of the match.