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April 4, 2009
Ricky Ponting has praised Michael Hussey after he showed signs of exiting a rough patch with a valuable half-century in Australia's first-up win over South Africa. Hussey has been out of touch for most of the season but stood up with 83 from 79 balls to steer his side to 286 for 7 in the 141-run success.
"It's been a difficult few months for him," Ponting said after the match. Despite Hussey's difficulties, Ponting said the batsman's focus had not changed.
"You wouldn't know with him," Ponting said. "He just continues to work hard, enjoy his cricket and enjoy the hard work. It was great to see him get those runs on the board again.
"When he went out to bat it was a really crucial moment in the game. For him to get 80-odd will hopefully give him confidence for the rest of the summer."
Nathan Hauritz, the offspinner, then grabbed a rare opportunity to take 4 for 29 as South Africa crumbled to 145. James Hopes and Mitchell Johnson also grabbed two wickets each in a performance that pleased Ponting.
"We just made an over-par score on that wicket," Ponting said. "It was going to be a competitive score but the guys bowled exceptionally well. Hauritz was terrific and Hopes was very, very good and Mitchell was good as well."
Graeme Smith scored 52 from 56 deliveries on his comeback from a broken hand, but his team could not build on the strong start. "Australia were better in all departments," he said.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.