Friday, April 10, 2009

AUSTRALIA VS SOUTHAFRICA 3rd ODI:SA beats Australia by 25 runs in 3rd ODI


South Africa's trio of spin bowlers tied Australia's top order in knots at Newlands, making use of a slow pitch to win the third one-day international by 25 runs on Thursday.

South Africa, after starting with a loss, moved ahead 2-1 in the five-match series with games to come in Port Elizabeth on Monday and Johannesburg next Friday.

After captain Graeme Smith ended his long toss-losing streak and opted to bat, the Proteas compiled an excellent 289-6. Then, after the top half of the Australia batting order was removed, there was a minor revival instigated by Callum Ferguson (63) and James Hopes (63 not out). But Australia could manage only 264-7 in its 50 overs.

South Africa rookie slow left-armer Roelof van der Merwe took 3-37, Johan Botha claimed the wicket of Australia captain Ricky Ponting, and JP Duminy bowled two overs but claimed 1-6.

"I thought the spinners bowled really well together," Smith said. "And it was good to see spin options being tried, given that the World Cup in 2011 is scheduled for the Asian subcontinent."

Smith said the other key factor was the 114-run, third-wicket partnership between man of the match Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers.

"The wicket was pretty slow, the way they adapted was good, and they ran well between the wickets," Smith said.

Van der Merwe snapped up the wickets of Michael Clarke for 35 and Michael Hussey for 1 in the 23rd over to make it 83-4. Clarke, who faced 49 balls and hit two fours, charged down the track and played over one to be bowled, while Hussey was given out lbw by umpire Asoka de Silva but looked to have got an inside edge onto his pad.

Van der Merwe also dismissed joint top scorer Ferguson, caught off a smear shot which spiraled into the covers to be taken by de Villiers.

Duminy's brilliant pick-up and direct hit ran out Brad Haddin for 15. Ponting took 35 balls for his 20 runs and popped a return catch to Botha.

Duminy, on for two overs, had David Hussey caught at deep mid-on for 20 by Dale Steyn off a full toss, and at 114-5 Australia looked to be heading for defeat by a big margin.

Ferguson, in his seventh ODI, hit an enterprising 63 off 68 balls, his highest score in one-dayers and second half-century in the series. He hit six fours.

Ferguson and Hopes added 97 for the sixth wicket in 14.4 overs. Allrounder Hopes atoned for a poor day with the ball by hitting 63 not out off 60 balls, with five fours.

Ponting said his team's fitful batting was not helping.

"In the test series guys did put up their hands (and performed well), but in the last couple of games too few guys have been trying to carry the load," he said.

"We just need a better and more rounded team performance if we are going to win in Port Elizabeth."

Earlier, de Villiers' and Kallis' half centuries provided the platform for late-innings big-hitters Albie Morkel and Mark Boucher to propel South Africa to an imposing total, the fourth highest at Newlands in a one-dayer.

De Villiers topscored with 80 off 87 balls, and with Kallis, who contributed 70 off 86 balls, they combined for 114 off 137 balls for the third wicket. De Villiers hit seven boundaries to Kallis' five.

The pair rebuilt the innings after openers Herschelle Gibbs (26) and Smith (8) went relatively cheaply.

After de Villiers and Kallis fought back they went within five overs of each other to leave South Africa on 198-4 in the 41st over. Kallis chipped one to midwicket to be caught by Hopes off Brett Geeves, while de Villiers put a leading edge to mid-off, where Nathan Hauritz pouched a regulation catch, off left-armer Mitchell Johnson.

Johnson also bagged Duminy (29), caught in the covers by Michael Hussey off a flat-batted shot into the covers, and Morkel, bowled in the final over of the innings. Johnson finished with 4-34, as the rest of the attack battled to keep a lid on the scoring.

South Africa employed the batting power-play from overs 41 to 45, but added only 38 runs.

Morkel, whose 29 came off just 25 balls, and Boucher, who collected his 28 not out off only 15 deliveries, piled up the runs in the final five overs, which realized 56 runs. Their sixth-wicket partnership was worth 53 in five overs.

The bearded Geeves came in for Ben Laughlin in Australia's only change to the team which lost by seven wickets in Pretoria on Sunday. He was expensive, though, going for 67 runs for only the wicket of Kallis.

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