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March 3, 2006
This winter-long contest has moved continents over the last few weeks but, so far, the cricket has been from a different planet. Australia are the side struck down by injuries, struggling with their bowling attack and generally not having the rub of the green. South Africa, meanwhile, have been transformed from the flat, lifeless side of the VB series.
For South Africa this series is about trying to lay some of the ghosts from the Australian tour to rest - and they are certainly making a decent fist of things. On Sunday it was Graeme Smith discarding the bad memories with a cathartic, match-winning century and, today, Kemp went through a similar process. The barnstorming half-century showed his true colours and helped South Africa garner 93 runs in final ten overs - chiefly with the support of Shaun Pollock in a 62-run stand off 44 balls.
The South African turn-around has also been characterised by Ntini, who missed the VB series with injury but has returned to add renewed vigour and bite to the attack. The destruction began with Ntini's first ball, as he cut Adam Gilchrist in half, then Phil Jaques drove loosely to second slip, where Kemp continued his fine day by pouching the catch with ease.
Ntini was running hot and none of the Australian batsmen were comfortable. After getting his first two scalps by pitching the ball up, he tested Damien Martyn with the bouncer and it was obligingly hooked straight to long leg. Bowling second at Newlands is always an advantage, but sides still have to make it count. Ntini, brilliantly supported by Pollock and Andre Nel, ensured there was no let-up on the Australians, who also didn't help their own cause with some shots they will wish had stayed in the pavilion.
Mike Hussey has engineered some remarkable Australian rearguards already this year, but salvaging this wreck was beyond even him. It took all his ability just to repel the South African seamers and boundaries were few and far between. When Australia had lost their first four wickets Simon Katich was still to get off the mark - his innings resembled something from a Test match rather than the one-day arena - and he was undone by some extra bounce after a painful stay in the middle.
Everything the South Africans touched continued to turn to gold as Hussey's attempts to make something from the mess were ended by a sharp catch a short midwicket. The catcher, Kemp, like South Africa, was just having one of those days.
He had earlier played the ideal end-of-innings knock to boost South Africa to a total that appeared out of their reach at the 40-over mark. Throughout the more sedate stage of the innings Australia had struck enough blows to stop any major acceleration.
However, South Africa pride themselves in having a long batting line-up and that depth allowed them to open their shoulders in the final ten overs. Pollock took the leading role, launching a ferocious assault against Stuart Clark, who had been the model of consistency in his first spell, carving him for 22 runs off his eighth over.
Kemp followed by dispatching the first two deliveries of Nathan Bracken's next over into the crowd and suddenly 34 runs in eight balls had transformed the complexion of the innings. And Kemp wasn't finished their, either. Clark disappeared over deep extra-cover before Brett Lee also got neck ache by watching the ball disappear back over his head.
The base that allowed the middle-order to express themselves was laid by Herschelle Gibbs, who stroked eight crisp boundaries to stabilise a top-order performance that had been wasteful in ideal batting conditions. He formed a sensible stand of 80 with Boucher, but when Brad Hogg removed them both within four overs 260 appeared the summit of South Africa's ambitions. Kemp, though, swung the balance of the match before Ntini took centre stage, powering his team to a thoroughly deserved 2-0 series lead. A wounded Australia is a dangerous team, but they have some serious work to do to get back into this series.
Graeme Smith b Clark 24 (45 for 1)
Played around a good length ball on off stump
Boeta Dippeneaar b Watson 31 (57 for 2)
Inside edged a drive
AB de Villiers b Watson 18 (95 for 3)
Attempted an ugly swing to leg
Herschelle Gibbs c and b Hogg 66 (175 for 4)
Stepped down the pitch, chipped a catch back to bowler
Mark Boucher lbw b Hogg 42 (192 for 5)
Missed a sweep, hitting middle
Shaun Pollock c Clarke b Lee 38 (254 for 6)
Lofted to cover
Robin Peterson c Martyn b Clark 4 (262 for 7)
Squirted to backward point
Adam Gilchrist c Boucher b Ntini 0 (1 for 1)
Thin inside edge after ball seamed into the batsman
Phil Jaques c Kemp b Ntini 0 (1 for 2)
Thick edge to second slip
Damien Martyn c Dippenaar b Ntini 4 (5 for 3)
Hooked straight to long leg
Michael Clarke c Boucher b Ntini 1 (7 for 4)
Loose waft outside off stump
Simon Katich c de Villiers b Nel 16 (33 for 5)
Chased one that bounced, popped a catch to cover
Mike Hussey c Kemp b Nel 22 (57 for 6)
Pulled to midwicket, smart tumbling catch
Brad Hogg c Pollock b Peterson 6 (70 for 7)
Swung to deep midwicket
Brett Lee c Dippenaar b Nel 1 (71 for 8)
Upper cut to third man
Nathan Bracken c Boucher b Ntini 10 (86 for 9)
Regulation outside edge from a drive
Shane Watson c Boucher b Ntini 27 (93 all out)
Thin edge, playing away from body
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of CricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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