Australia thought they had realistic hopes for victory. So did most other people at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. But there were a few who believed South Africa had a chance. That is because Mark Boucher and Albie Morkel were still lurking dangerously, waiting to come into the limelight.
Australia must have felt a little bit of a deja vu at the end of the match. After all, South Africa went onto win the match because of the duo that also wrecked Australia’s opportunities in the ODI series down under. They were at it once again and South Africa were only elated at the prospect.
Chasing Australia’s competitive 165, South Africa appeared to have given themselves a terrific start with Herschelle Gibbs getting into explosive mode and Hashim Amla showing his successful transition from the longer version of the game to the Twenty20 version.
But with Gibbs’ departure, South Africa suffered a mini collapse. Suddenly in huge trouble at eighty-three for five, South Africa looked to be handing this back to Australia and David Hussey, who starred earlier with the bat for eighty-eight in an otherwise lacklustre Australian batting performance despite David Warner’s brief blitzkrieg.
But Mark Boucher and Albie Morkel staged a partnership that went from sedate and steady to pure drama and fireworks. Morkel was the chief engineer, once again crafting out ingenuous shots for thumping boundaries and sixes and suddenly a couple of heavy overs were all South Africa were in need of to see off Australia’s target which has considerably surmounted in value as South Africa kept losing wickets.
Morkel departed before the job was complete but South Africa had, by then, had inched close enough for Boucher to provide the late firepower to ensure South Africa won this with four wickets to spare and momentum for the Sunday’s second encounter.