Australia score thrilling five-run win over Proteas

January 18th, 2009 - 9:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Hobart, Jan 18 (IANS) Australia snatched a thrilling five-run win over South Africa in the second One-Day International to level the five-match here Sunday.Put in to bat, Australia made 249 for eight in 50 overs, thanks to the 135-run second-wicket partnership between opener Shaun Marsh (78) and skipper Ricky Ponting (64). In reply, the visitors came threateningly close to post their second consecutive win, finishing just six runs short at 244 for six.

A lot was expected from debutant David Warner, who stabbed an outgoing delivery of Dale Steyn to wicket-keeper Mark Boucher for five, reducing Australia 17 for one.

But Ponting, who walked in, joined forces with Marsh and pulled his side out of the troubled waters with Man of the match Marsh at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and laid the basis for Australia’s total.

Ponting got off to slow start but gradually paced up his innings, his 50 coming in 56 balls. Marsh and Ponting, however, got lifelines with South African fielding speckled with dropped catches.

Both Marsh and Ponting left in three over but the Australians maintained their run rate.

It was only with the introduction of spinners and Powerplay in the 40th over were the Proteas able to slow down the run flow. The quick dismissal of Michael Hussey (28) and Cameron White (1) caused further dent in scoring. Brad Haddin got run out on the penultimate delivery and when Ryan Harris was caught at the long on by Jean Duminy, it brought an end to Australian innings and gave Makhaya Ntini three for 39.

Jacques Kallis took two for 57 and Steyn finished with two for 36, in a bowling display that was much better than the slippery-fingered catching over the first half of the innings.

In reply, South African openers fell early and it was Jacques Kallis (72) who shouldered the Proteas challenge. A.B de Villers played a perfect foil, chipping in with 44.

Kallis hit five boundaries, including a couple of fierce off-side drives, but departed while attempting a cut off spinner Paul Harris and was caught at point by Ben Hilfenhaus, putting an end to his 93-run stand with De Villiers.

However, it was De Villiers run-out from Harris’ throw that caught Proteas off foot. They were suddenly left struggling at 157 for four in 37th over, needing seven an over to win.

Australia continued to apply pressure and did not let Duminy (35) and Neil McKenzie (8) cut loose. Harris clipped McKenzie’s bail to earn his sole wicket while Duminy fell short of his crease.

Off-spinner David Hussey and James Hopes (1-43) bowled a tight line to further choke the run flow.

But Proteas accelerated their runs to the point where they needed 17 from the final over, which was bowled by Hilfenhaus. Mark Boucher launched a six to long-on and eight were wanted from the last two deliveries, but they could only rush two singles.

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