MORNE MORKEL took a career-best 5/21 on a pitch that appealed to the fast bowlers on both sides to set up the Castle Lager Proteas for a series-levelling three-wicket victory over Australia at the WACA in Perth on Sunday.
His previous best had been 5/38 against New Zealand and was South Africa’s joint second best bowling performance against Australia (Nicky Boje also took 5/21). South Africa’s best bowling performance against Australia is Makhaya Ntini’s 6/22 which is South Africa’s best against all countries.
The Proteas produced an almost flawless bowling and fielding performance to skittle Australia for 154 in 41.4 overs after the home side had won the toss but then made heavy weather of completing the victory with more than 22 overs to spare.
If the Proteas were a little bit more aggressive than the situation demanded, it was an error on the positive side. In fairness, because of the nature of the chase and the pace at which the Proteas were going the Australians virtually bowled out their three frontline seamers, barely using either their fourth or fifth bowler.
Nevertheless, the bowlers who had done so well did not look too happy to have to come out and help David Miller complete the job. It has been a good weekend for Miller who excelled in the field and his unbeaten 22 off 26 balls (3 fours) was one of his more valuable innings. He had one memorable over against Mitchell Johnson who produced a short delivery that went for 5 wides and was then no-balled for bowling more than 3 short-pitched deliveries in the over. Miller showed supreme composure during this intended intimidation and finished the over with a superb straight drive for four.
Although Morkel took the headline honours he was well supported by the rest of the attack. Dale Steyn took 3.35 in 7.4 and Vernon Philander 1/16 in 9 that confirmed that his ODI form is right back at the top.
There was also a key contribution from Farhaan Behardien who was required to bowl a full complement of overs following the decision to play seven specialist batsmen and he responded with 8 tidy overs for 40 runs and the important wicket of Shane Watson.
The Proteas again lost their two openers cheaply and wickets continued to fall at regular intervals until AB de Villiers (48 off 41 balls, 4 fours) and Miller took the Proteas to within 14 runs of victory.
The match also marked Hashim Amla’s 100th ODI appearance for South Africa.
The third match will be played at Canberra (05h25 CAT) on Wednesday and will be broadcast live by SuperSport (SS2) with ball-by-ball radio broadcast on SABC’s 2000FM.