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January 17, 2009
The Big PictureA committed South African chase provided serious excitement at the start of the five-game series as the visitors sneaked to a three-wicket success in Melbourne on Friday. After Australia posted a confident 8 for 271, Johan Botha's men recovered from being 3 for 90 and 7 for 221 to end their sequence of three defeats in a row.
If South Africa win in Hobart on Sunday it will leave Australia needing to take the final matches to claim the series. Australia have threatened their opponents regularly during the home summer, but the number of times they have let them escape has become a major concern. Ricky Ponting's men have to eliminate those crucial lapses if they want to be a high-performing outfit.
ODI form guideAustralia - LWWWW
Team newsThe 22-year-old opener David Warner is back after leaving the team briefly when Michael Clarke was passed fit prematurely from a nagging thumb injury. Warner, who has played two Twenty20s and no first-class matches, will open with Shaun Marsh, allowing Michael Hussey to head back to the middle order. The offspinner Nathan Hauritz has travelled the country with the team over the past week without playing, but is likely to get an opportunity at Bellerive Oval, where Tasmania have used three spinners at times this season. James Hopes, who had 0 for 51 off 10 overs in Melbourne, looks like the vulnerable one.
Australia (probable) 1 Shaun Marsh, 2 David Warner, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 David Hussey, 6 Cameron White, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Nathan Hauritz, 9 Nathan Bracken, 10 Ben Hilfenhaus, 11 Shaun Tait.
Dale Steyn seemed to have some problems with a shoulder while fielding in Melbourne and the South Africans are intent on rotating their bowlers, so it won't take much for Steyn to go and Makhaya Ntini to come in. AB de Villiers is still waiting to return from his bruised hip and if he is cleared Vaughn van Jaarsveld - he dropped two catches, took one and was run out for 4 on debut - could make way. Neil McKenzie, who played his first ODI for five years, would normally be squeezed out, but he showed some form with a valuable 63.
South Africa (probable) 1 Herschelle Gibbs, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Neil McKenzie, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Albie Morkel, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Johan Botha (capt), 11 Makhaya Ntini.
Watch out for ...Ricky Ponting heads back to his home state knowing he needs a big performance to show his fresh team how to recover from tight defeats. Ponting now lives in Sydney, but he remains a huge figure in Hobart and has 208 runs in six ODIs at the ground. Following a difficult summer in the Test team, he now faces another tricky encounter against a formidable opponent.
Albie Morkel, the older brother of Morne, stole the match - and the show - from Australia in Melbourne with a calm and brutal 40 from 18 deliveries. Hitting confidently straight down the ground, he also worked the strike and was unflustered as he and Botha sealed the win. A man who can open the bowling and do the work of a batsman is a treasure in any game.
Pitch & conditionsThe pitch is traditionally batsman-friendly at Bellerive Oval, but in first-class matches this season it has offered considerable help to the bowlers. Fine conditions are predicted for the match, with a top temperature of 23C.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"Overall, it was probably the one that got away from us. We've got another game on Sunday and we've got to learn from what we have done tonight and make sure we are better in some of the areas we were deficient in."
"If we play really well in Hobart and we go two-up, then it'll be massive pressure. But if after this weekend it's one-all then it's all-square again. Then the pressure is on both teams. Sunday is going to be a huge game for us."
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