South Africa are now one match away from sealing the ODI series against Australia. It is largely because of the leanings of AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis and bowling impetus in the latter half of the match that made it possible.
South Africa overcame the early hiccups of the loss of skipper Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs to have AB and Kallis post a 114 run partnership that proved the cornerstone of the South African innings. Their partnership for the third wicket not only prevented Australia from making further inroads but also, allowed South Africa to flourish as the game progressed.
A seventy run innings for AB and one of eighty for Kallis was the nucleus around which South Africa launched the final assault to take them to 289. Providing the useful cameos along the way were the usual suspects – Albie Morkel, JP Duminy and Mark Boucher and South Africa presented an enormous challenge for the visitors at Newlands, Cape Town.
It did not help Australia’s cause that their innings practically crawled to the mid stages under some tight leashed bowling from Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell, the man of the match from the previous game. Added to that, Australia kept losing wickets and apart from Mike Hussey being unlucky to be given out lbw to Roelof van der Merwe (who incidentally picked up three wickets for the match), Australia had only themselves to blame as they played with one hand tied behind their backs.
Rescue did not come until Callum Ferguson took his guard at the crease. But by then, Australia had lost five wickets, that of Brad Haddin to a run out, with the scoreboard trickling forth just 114 runs in the thirty-first over.
Ferguson and Hopes starred in a ninety-seven run partnership that defied the odds and each scored an identical sixty-three. But that was unfortunately not be enough for Australia whose need for acceleration had shot up since the loss of the early wickets. It kept the fans interested, but the writing was on the wall and without that one innings of telling effect, Australia were looking at the twenty-five run loss, the margin may appear closer than it really was.
South Africa rushed home to a resounding victory, Australia having over the Easter weekend to ponder upon their resurrection.