A new look Australian bowling attack stifled South Africa’s in-form batsmen as the hosts eked out a thrilling five-run win in the second ODI to level the five-match cricket series 1-1 in Hobart on Sunday.
Put into bat,Australia at one stage looked certain to reach the 300-mark before South African bowlers bounced back to restrict them to a moderate 249 for nine with Shaun Marsh (78) and Ricky Ponting (64) shinning with the bat.
In reply,South Africa got handy contributions from Jacques Kallis (72),AB de Villiers (44),Mark Boucher (37 not out) and JP Duminy (35) but still fell six runs short of the victory target and finished 244 for six in the humdinger.
Needing 17 from the final over off Ben Hilfenhaus,Mark Boucher hit the bowler for a six but in the subsequent deliveries,boundaries were not easy to come by. Required a six off the last ball,Boucher could only manage a single as Australia levelled the series.
Marshs fifth fifty in 10 games earned him the Man of the Match award.
The third match of the series is scheduled in Sydney on January 23.
Marsh and Ponting were in no hurry as they gauged the situation well and after 15 overs,Australia were going steady at 66 for one when they stepped on gas.
Marsh continued his rich form while Ponting was fluent as ever. They stitched together a 135-run stand as suddenly a score in the vicinity of 300 no more looked a distant possibility.
Kallis and Duminy,however,had other plans and they removed Ponting and Marsh,respectively in a span of three overs to halt Australia’s progress.
Skipper Johan Botha and Duminy stifled the run flow and with wickets falling at regular intervals,Australia suddenly found scoring a difficult task.
Kallis struck in the 40th over again,removing Mike Hussey (19) but with Makhaya Ntini (3/39) running through the lower order and running out Brad Haddin (23),Australia could not even touch the 250-mark.
It was a remarkable comeback by the South African bowlers who took five wickets for 53 runs in the last 10 overs.
Incidentally,a new look Australian pace attack,comprising Nathan Bracken,Ben Hilfenhaus and debutant Ryan Harris,came up with even a better show to tame South Africa.
The Proteas lost Hashim Amla (8) and Herschelle Gibbs (19) early to Hilfenhaus and James Hopes respectively but Kallis and de Villiers not only stemmed the rot but also laid the foundation for a perfect chase before things went haywire.
Hilfenhaus finally broke the 93-run stand stand by claiming Kallis and then de Villiers stumbled while going for a second run and was caught short of the crease.
Duminy and Boucher did try their best but Australian bowlers didn’t allow them any leeway and stemmed boundaries as run rates kept soaring.
In the end,South Africa needed eight from the last two deliveries but could manage just two singles.