Morkel stars in a thrilling win
by CricketArchive staff Reporter

Event:South Africa in Australia 2008/09

DateLine: 16th January 2009


Shaun Marsh set up a solid total of 8 for 271 for Australia in the first ODI at the MCG, where South Africa's fast bowlers applied enough pressure to give their batsmen a chance on a good batting pitch. David Hussey's 52 kept the scoreboard ticking but Dale Steyn led an attack that wouldn't be dominated. Had South Africa's fieldsmen backed their bowlers, the chase could have been far more gettable. Vaughn van Jaarsveld dropped Hussey on 9 and Ricky Ponting on 33 and a string of run-out opportunities were missed.


Things had started much better for the visitors when they picked up the early wicket of Michael Hussey, who edged behind off Steyn for 6 having been promoted to open. As Ponting was fluent at one end, Marsh scratched around at the other, only slowly beginning to show glimpses of the man who took the IPL by storm last year. His half-century came from 66 deliveries and there were a couple of crowd-pleasing strikes.


The frequent running between the wickets created a couple of close calls for Marsh, who was lucky to avoid an embarrassing run-out when Ponting pushed to Botha at mid-off. An accurate throw to the striker's end would have had a lazy Marsh caught short, seemingly unaware the ball was coming to his end.


Morne Morkel finally removed Marsh, who tried to glance to leg only to see the ball run off the back of his bat and through to Mark Boucher. But Marsh had made use of his let-offs, as had Ponting, whose 46 off 54 balls had threatened to set up a big total. As well as being dropped by van Jaarsveld, Ponting survived three close lbw shouts off Steyn and Kallis, any of which could have been given. Marsh's 79 was his third half-century from his past four one-day internationals.


South Africa's lacklustre fielding effort was a frustration for their bowlers, who created opportunities. Steyn was especially difficult in a fast spell with the changed ball after 34 overs and Morne Morkel's bounce was a challenge.


Hussey and Cameron White were the ideal men to have at the crease when they used the Powerplay at the start of the 42nd over but disciplined bowling and a lack of urgency in the batting meant Australia did not fully capitalise. Hussey when was bowled trying to swipe Albie Morkel. South Africa didn't let White (21) and Brad Haddin (19) make anything more than minor contributions and it was a strong fightback after Marsh and Ponting gave Australia a good start.


JP Duminy and Neil McKenzie set up South Africa's win before Albie Morkel finished the job with a magnificent unbeaten 40 from 18 balls. The loss of McKenzie and Duminy left South Africa in big trouble as they needed 50 from six overs with three wickets in hand, but Morkel and Johan Botha used the batting Powerplay to perfection to get them home with three balls to spare.


The Powerplay was taken at the start of the 45th over and Morkel used it to destroy Australia, particularly Ben Hilfenhaus, with four fours and a six. They picked up 51 from the Powerplay and it was a frenetic end to a chase that had meandered through the middle overs, when Duminy showed more self-control as he compiled 71 without a boundary.


He nudged and guided while Ricky Ponting relied on the medium and slow offerings of James Hopes, David Hussey and Michael Clarke through the middle overs, yet somehow he maintained a healthy strike-rate of 76.34. Duminy was pumping out singles , producing 44 such hits as he registered the sixth highest ODI score not to feature a four or six.


When he finally fell, clipping Nathan Bracken's offcutter to midwicket, it looked like for the third time this week Duminy's efforts would go in vain. That was especially so when McKenzie also fell for 63, having put forward his one-day credentials after a five-year absence. Their 123-run stand for the fourth wicket had taken a slightly shaky beginning - they came together at 3 for 90 - and turned it into a solid platform.


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