Morkel guar­an­tees vic­tory

The big pace­man steps it up with ca­reer best fig­ures of 5/21 be­fore AB pro­duces a sparkling knock in suc­cess­ful run chase

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

OUTH Africa re­stored par­ity in this one-day se­ries, ig­nor­ing the op­pres­sive heat, and the an­noy­ing flies to pro­duce a per­for­mance more in keep­ing with the stan­dards that they have set for them­selves as a team re­cently.

If Fri­day was ugly – par­tic­u­larly in the field – yes­ter­day’s show­ing had all the smooth

Sel­e­gant lines of the finest Ital­ian su­per­car. South Africa were sharp in the field, throw­ing them­selves about ath­let­i­cally, grab­bing some stun­ning catches; even Im­ran Tahir got un­der a high one, called off his cap­tain, and held the chance.

The bowl­ing was fierce, aided by a pitch which in the heat of the last few days had har­dened and quick­ened. It was to Morne Morkel’s lik­ing, but not to bats­men on ei­ther side, bar AB de Vil­liers, who looks like he could thrive with the bat on the cratered sur­face of Comet 67P.

The make-up of the SA start­ing XI made it a ne­ces­sity that the new balls had to be utilised well. Farhaan Be­har­dien re­tained his place in the team, but Rilee Ros­souw was brought in to re­place out-of-sorts Ryan McLaren, so the team was a bowler light.

“It was im­por­tant for us to step up,” said Morkel of the front­line bowlers.

Some­what sur­pris­ingly he was given the first over ahead of Dale Steyn – Morkel say­ing it was an ex­per­i­ment in case ei­ther Ver­non Phi­lan­der or Steyn were to miss a match with a “tummy ill­ness” or the flu. And it worked a treat, with Morkel get­ting the dan­ger­ous Dave Warner beau­ti­fully caught by a div­ing Quin­ton de Kock off the fifth ball of the match.

Mak­ing early in­roads was go­ing to be vi­tal for the tourists with the fifth bowler’s ra­tion set to come from De Vil­liers and Be­har­dien. If Aus­tralia had been able to hang on, they could have taken ad­van­tage against Be­har­dien’s use­ful, though still mainly gen­tle of­fer­ings. As it was they were two down in the fifth over, when Steyn re­moved Aaron Finch cour­tesy of a fine catch by Morkel at mid-on.

For good mea­sure Be­har­dien then re­moved Wat­son in his sec­ond over and when Steve Smith – who re­placed Michael Clarke – was out two overs after that, the game was just about up.

It was a dream sce­nario for De Vil­liers, who could get through eight overs of part-time medium pace from Be­har­dien, while fir­ing away at the other end with the more es­tab­lished quick bowlers and leg-spin­ner Tahir.

Aus­tralia had just one part­ner­ship of note – a fifth wicket stand of 58 be­tween George Bai­ley and Mitchell Marsh, the lat­ter even­tu­ally fin­ished the in­nings with an un­beaten 67 (88b, 3x4, 2x6).

“I know this sounds funny, but they caught ev­ery­thing to­day, and as we saw from Fri­day, that’s vi­tally im­por­tant,” said Bai­ley, who will con­tinue to lead the Aus­tralians, with Clarke out for the rest of the se­ries. “They didn’t give us any­thing to hit, I don’t re­mem­ber any cuts or pulls, and though they didn’t bowl a lot of bounc­ers, the threat of them was al­ways there. It was just con­tin­u­ous pres­sure lead­ing to wick­ets.”

Morkel fin­ished with ca­reer best fig­ures of 5/21 from eight overs, ex­plain­ing that a lot of yes- ter­day’s suc­cess was down to bet­ter rhythm for the bowlers.

“On Fri­day we were a bit rusty and lacked rhythm. But with the wicket be­ing a bit quicker to­day, it helped us to find our stride.”

The pur­suit of the Aus­tralian tar­get was not with­out its prob­lems, and credit must go to Josh Ha­zle­wood who picked up his first ODI ‘five-for’ in just his fourth match. De Vil­liers pro­duced another sparkling knock of 48, and en­gaged in a com­pelling bat­tle with Mitchell John­son with the SA skip­per ini­tially dom­i­nant – tak­ing three fours off John­son’s fifth over. Aus­tralia’s top fast bowler came back in his next over though, touch­ing up AB in the ribs and trou­bling him with de­liv­er­ies bounc­ing sharply off a length.

The se­ries heads to Can­berra for the third match on Wed­nes­day.

PIC­TURE: AP

HOWZAT! Morne Morkel ap­peals for the wicket of Aus­tralia’s Matt Wade, caught be­hind by Quin­ton de Kock. Wade was ini­tially given not out, but the decision was changed after a re­view.

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