HASHIM AMLA scored his 17th century and his first against Australia to set up the Castle Lager Proteas runs chase but the middle-order was not able to capitalise as the home side eventually won the third ODI of the five-match series by 73 runs at the Manuka Oval, Canberra, on Wednesday.
The Proteas looked to be in with a good shout when Amla (102 off 115 balls, 9 fours) and AB de Villiers (52 off 34 balls, 6 fours and a six) shared a fourth wicket partnership of 76 in just under 10 overs. At that stage the Proteas needed a further 106 off 76 balls with six wickets in hand in pursuit of a formidable Australian total of 329/5.
But De Villiers and Amla were then dismissed in the space of 6 balls for the addition of 2 runs and, with David Miller falling victim to an unfortunate leg before wicket decision, the impetus went out of the Proteas run chase and in the end they were beaten by a convincing margin.
The last man, Imran Tahir, did not bat because of injury which must be an area of concern for the Proteas.
Both sides started their innings – Australia won the toss – with century partnerships, Aaron Finch and David Warner putting on 118 for Australia in exactly 20 overs and Quinton de Kock and Amla putting on 108 for the Proteas in 18.2 overs.
Finch was the other centurion in the match, scoring 109 off 127 balls (9 fours and 3 sixes). It was his fifth ODI century and his second against South Africa.
The match then boiled down to what Man of the Match, Steve Smith, and De Villiers did at the back end of the innings. Smith’s unbeaten 73 off 55 balls with 8 fours proved to be decisive and turned what looked like being a total of about 280 into one that was substantially better.
Australia have, in fact, never lost a home ODI in which they have scored more than 300 runs.
If there was one major area that contributed to the Proteas’ defeat it was their lack of bowling discipline which saw them concede 7 wides and 4 no balls as opposed to the 2 wides and 1 no ball of Australia. Some of Morne Morkel’s wides were probably unavoidable as they attacked Warner on leg-stump where there is minimal room for error.
But the no balls are a different story and on two occasions the seventh ball of the over went for a six.
Remarkably, Farhaan Behardien, who again had to fill a major bowling role, was statistically the second best bowler after Dale Steyn and he and AB de Villiers conceded only 81 runs in the 14 overs they bowled between them and took a wicket apiece. Behardien is becoming a reliable option in this area.
The Proteas play the fourth ODI at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday (05h25 CAT) and the match will be broadcast live on SuperSport (SS2) with ball by ball radio coverage on SABC’s 2000FM.