Hussey and White flex in Australian success
Michael Hussey's cool head and some force from Cameron White were responsible for driving Australia to back-to-back victories in the Twenty20 warm-ups for the start of the CB Series in Melbourne on Friday. Hussey was badly out of form during the Test campaign, but he showed both mind and muscle during an unbeaten 53 from 32 balls as Australia reached 4 for 161 in reply to South Africa's 5 for 157, a total set up by JP Duminy's unbeaten half-century.
The first ten overs of both innings were sleepy and ugly affairs, but the second half of Australia's was much more entertaining, particularly when Hussey was joined by Cameron White. Hussey, who launched Albie Morkel to midwicket for a six, sparked Australia with three fours in a row off Wayne Parnell, the 19-year-old debutant, and 16 came from the 11th over to revive the hosts.
However, the 61-run stand between Ricky Ponting and Hussey ended when Ponting was run out by Morne Morkel's smart under-arm. Ponting had collected three fours and a six over midwicket before his 38 was curtailed at a crucial time.
David Hussey departed in the same over as Ponting when he was the victim of a stunning running take from Duminy at long-off. As the South Africans converged on their team-mate, the home side worried at 4 for 92 after 13 overs. They didn't need to.
Duminy misjudged a catch in the same position off Cameron White when he was 9 and the ball went for four. The mistake grew worse when boundaries also came from Parnell's next three balls to thrust Australia to the verge of victory. White finished the job with a six over long-on to seal the win with seven balls to spare. His 40 came from 18 deliveries during a match-winning partnership of 69 with Hussey.
Unsurprisingly David Warner, Australia's new wonder boy after his 89 from 43 balls in Melbourne, was unable to repeat his heroics and was bowled trying to slog Dale Steyn. When he went for 7 in the fifth over Australia were battling at 1 for 21 and they were 2 for 29 when Shaun Marsh, who had whipped Steyn for six behind square, lobbed a catch off Morne Morkel.
Morkel grabbed 2 for 32 while the offspinner Johan Botha, who opened the bowling, was tight in allowing 19 from his four. However, Parnell's 44 runs from four proved too costly.
South Africa's innings was slow to find the necessary surge, but Duminy added to his 78 in Melbourne with a strong 69 off 41 balls as his team-mates struggled against a testing attack. Australia named an unchanged side following their 52-run victory on Sunday while South Africa had four new faces. They missed AB de Villiers, who was still suffering from the under-edge on to his hip from Shaun Tait at the MCG, and Jacques Kallis was unavailable due to illness.
After failing to ignite early, the tourists relied on Duminy, who picked up seven boundaries and two sixes, and a pair of 19s from Mark Boucher and Albie Morkel to inflate the total. Duminy's acceleration started with a glance for four off Tait and in the next over he whipped James Hopes for six behind square leg, giving the visitors a much needed push.
Duminy thrashed Tait, who provided moments of discomfort, through mid-off for four as the bowler ended his four-over stint with 0 for 37. Albie Morkel provided some late blows and Neil McKenzie, the only fit batsman remaining in the squad, was 7 not out.
Hopes led the Australians with 2 for 29 and Nathan Bracken gave up six from his opening two overs before returning at the end to pick up Albie Morkel, who heaved to David Hussey at long-on. However, he was blasted for a six over long-off by Duminy in the last over and ended with 1 for 29.
The opener Hashim Amla had some bright flashes, slicing Tait over third man for six, but a subdued start got to him and he was out for 26 when pulling Ben Hilfenhaus to midwicket. South Africa's situation worsened to 3 for 41 in the next over when Vaughn van Jaarsveld was lbw first ball to David Hussey.
Duminy and Mark Boucher put on 49 before Boucher miscued Hopes and Tait collected the catch at point. Some of the players also found the Gabba surface, which has suffered from a grass fungus, slippery, but the fielding from Australia's young team was sharp, just like their middle-order batting.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo