Ponting finds positives out of second loss
Ricky Ponting is confident that his developing team will benefit from their two Twenty20 losses in South Africa as the World Twenty20 approaches. South Africa won the second game in Centurion by 17 runs and took the series 2-0 after a similarly strong victory in the opening game at the Wanderers.
Australia handed a debut to the Queensland fast bowler Ben Laughlin in Centurion, where he took 1 for 32, and Shane Harwood improved to collect 2 for 21 having seen his figures inflate in the first match. Ponting believes the outings will help Australia formulate their squad for the world championship in England in June.
"We did a lot better tonight, particularly with the ball," Ponting told AAP. "Shane Harwood really adjusted well tonight, bowled a lot better. I thought Ben Laughlin made a really good debut.
"So to give some exposure to those guys is beneficial for us going into a World Cup campaign. They have been two pretty poor results but at the end of the day, the bigger picture is a World Cup."
The South Africans have also taken the opportunity to look at some new faces ahead of the World Twenty20 and Roelof van der Merwe and Yusuf Abdulla made impressive debuts on Sunday. Van der Merwe was the Man of the Match for his aggressive 48 and a wicket, while Abdulla was tight in taking 1 for 16 from three overs.
"I couldn't ask for more than what happened tonight - making my debut for my country, playing on my home ground and putting in a good performance," van der Merwe said. "It hasn't sunk in yet but I'm glad with the way things turned out. Hopefully, there'll be more."
Another key performer was the stand-in captain Johan Botha, who grabbed 2 for 16 and helped tie up the Australians as they tried to chase South Africa's 156 for 5. Botha was pleased with his efforts ahead of the ODI series, which begins on Friday in Durban where Graeme Smith is expected to return from injury to take back the captaincy.
"It went really nicely for me and for the team tonight," Botha said. "All the guys who came in did really well. They deserved a chance after their domestic performances and have given the selectors something to think about.
"I think you've just got to keep it simple, build the pressure on the batsmen. I think they get rushed in a way and then you get the opportunity to get on top of them. Batsmen like lining you up, as you know, so the key is always to keep it basic. But all the praise should be reserved for the team. I think we played really nicely in these two games."