Poor Proteas bowl themselves over
Australia . . . . . . . . . .329/5 South Africa . . . . . . . .256/9
Australia won by 73 runs
A BIG change in conditions, another ragged showing with the ball and another strangely, unbalanced starting team, coupled with some outstanding play from the hosts, have left South Africa in a hole in this ODI series.
There’d have been plenty of head-scratching on the flight to Melbourne today about how exactly they readdress the imbalance in the side caused by JP Duminy’s enforced absence. They’ll have to adapt better to conditions at the MCG than they did in Canberra last night. The pitch was slower here and the bounce – especially after the ball lost its hardness – not as steep as at the Waca. The bowlers, Morné Morkel and Vernon Philander in particular, let their discipline slide badly, which ultimately proved costly.
This wasn’t as disjointed a performance as the first match in Perth, but there was still a number of errors – Morkel’s calamitous final over; the dismissals of AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla within a short space of time was fatal; while the inability of anyone else to raise their game with the bat when those two don’t click, is worrying.
Last night’s pitch was in the ‘belter’ category, however South Africa certainly got the tougher assignment in batting second.
“I got out at a bad time,” said De Villiers who made 52 in an innings featuring plenty of inventive shot making.
“Throughout (Australia’s) innings they never had two new batters at the crease (together). That was in our gameplan and then, unfortunately, Hash and I got out within an over of each other.”
The Australians, through opener Aaron Finch and then Steve Smith applied the finishing touches to their innings, which the host controlled the majority of.
“We were very conscious that there had to be an ‘in batter’ because it was very difficult to start your innings on that pitch,” said Finch. “That was a real positive for us, that I could take it to the 40th over and then Stevie took over.”
Finch’s anchor role saw him make 107 (127b, 9x4, 3x6), and though South Africa had done reasonably well to slow Australia’s scoring in the latter half of the innings, Finch’s platform was built upon by Smith’s effervescence, allowing Australia to mount a late charge in which 62 runs were scored in the final five overs.
Twenty-eight of those runs came in boundaries, while Smith’s outstanding running between the wickets, turned a number of singles into two’s. He finished unbeaten with 73 (55b, 8x4) and was chiefly responsible for Morkel’s concession of 19 runs in the final over.
De Villiers, Behardien and Imran Tahir shared 20 overs between them, with Behardien doing another excellent job with the ball, picking up Shane Watson – again – while going for 39 in eight overs.
Morkel, Philander and Tahir struggled, however, the latter targeted by David Warner early, while the two seamers badly let down their skipper with poor discipline. “Extras were too many … little basics we got wrong,” said De Villiers. Between them Morkel and Philander were responsible for six wides and all four no balls – an unacceptable statistic for international players.
“If we were chasing 290 or 300, we could have handled (our innings) a lot differently. It would have allowed Hash and myself to take a bit more time.”
As it was, South Africa had set up the chase well. Amla’s typically composed century (102, 115b, 9x4) provided the solidity early – a 108-run opening stand with Quinton de Kock laying a strong foundation.
Then came South Africa’s most dominant period of the chase, with De Villiers coming in at No5, he and Amla put on 76 runs in just over nine overs.
De Villiers admitted there had been thoughts of sending him in at No4 but that he and coach Russell Domingo felt he was better suited to batting after Rilee Rossouw.
“With my experience I want to push myself down (the order) to make sure we still have a chance at the end,” said De Villiers. “There was a discussion … we both felt if I was there at 40 overs, with a top order batsman, we’ve got a good chance of winning the game. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there at the 40th.”
Instead, he and Amla fell within six balls of each other, and South Africa crumbled from 224/3 to 256/9 in just seven overs. Despite the challenging conditions, the fact that the tourists played seven frontline batsmen, meant they would have hoped someone would have been able to pick up the slack once the two senior players were dismissed.
That didn’t happen, now they must win in Melbourne.
Imran Tahir sprained his knee while fielding. His fitness for tomorrow’s match will be assessed in Melbourne today.
THE LAST STAND: Hashim Amla scored a determined century for the Proteas in yesterday’s third ODI against Australia. His efforts were for naught though as the Aussies beat an erratic South Africa comprehensively by 73 runs to take a 2-1 lead in the five match series. The next game is tomorrow at the MCG.