Poor Proteas bowl them­selves over

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - STU­ART HESS

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.

PIC­TURE: GETTY IMAGES

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.

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