South Africa v Australia, 2nd ODI, Port Elizabeth October 23, 2011

Impressive South Africa level series

South Africa 303 for 6 (Kallis 76, Miller 59, Smith 57, Duminy 56) beat Australia 223 (Warner 74, Morkel 4-22) by 80 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

South Africa regained parity in the ODI series against Australia - and valuable equilibrium after an extended break from international cricket - with a resounding 80-run victory in the second match at St George's Park.

Where the hosts had looked out of sorts with the bat and rusty in the field at Centurion, they now clambered all over a touring side that was both inconvenienced and worried by a back complaint for the vice-captain Shane Watson, on his return to the team from a hip injury. Watson staggered off the field after wincing in pain upon the delivery of the fifth ball of his fourth over and must now be in doubt for the deciding third match in Durban despite batting later.

His absence in the field was keenly felt as South Africa ran up an imposing 303 for 6 via sizeable contributions from Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith, David Miller and JP Duminy. All the Australian pacemen were taken for runs, Pat Cummins delivering one maiden but otherwise finding the going harder than at any stage so far in his infant international career.

The tourists' chase lacked the required authority from the moment Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke were dismissed cheaply, as Morne Morkel collected a richly-deserved 4 for 22 on a pitch that slowed across the course of the match.

Ponting opened in Watson's place, and struck two boundaries in six balls before he presented a low catch to the covers from the bowling of Lonwabo Tsotsobe. Clarke snicked a nicely pitched Morkel delivery to slip and at 37 for 2 the innings was set on an unsteady path towards 223 all out.

Hashim Amla was earlier out to the first ball of a match South Africa must win to keep the series open, but Kallis and Smith wrested the initiative with a stand of 142, and Miller played with plenty of energy and power in the company of the more taciturn Duminy to ensure a mid-innings wobble did not compound.

Australia's greatest problems had appeared the search for wickets on a slow and placid pitch, but Watson added significantly them when he grimaced and clutched at his back.

He immediately departed for the dressing room and the attention of the team physio Alex Kountouris, leaving Clarke to finish the over. Watson, recovered from a hip complaint, had been named to replace the promising allrounder Mitchell Marsh, whose brother Shaun Marsh remained on the sidelines with a shoulder problem.

The early wickets of Ponting and Clarke placed Australia in perilous territory, forcing David Warner to rein in some of his more aggressive tendencies while Michael Hussey played with typical modulation. Both were reprieved, Warner dropped badly at mid on by Amla when 26, while Hussey survived lookalike stumping chances on 14 and 36, Mark Boucher failing to gather deliveries that slid between bat and pad.

They added 71, the only substantial union of the innings, but Hussey was run out as the required run-rate climbed and Warner miscued an attempted pull shot to grant Boucher a swirling catch. Watson managed one rasping six when he belatedly came in to bat, but was caught in the deep off Tsotsobe as the equation slipped out of reach and the crowd was allowed a period of prolonged celebration.

Steve Smith offered a minor rearguard but his lack of boundaries was a neat encapsulation of the Australian struggle for momentum on a sluggish surface.

Kallis and Smith had earlier showed plenty of vigour to stall an Australian bowling attack that was laughing when Amla, the hosts' stand-in captain, had played too early at the first ball of the day and popped a return catch to Doug Bollinger.

The wicket showed that the pitch was far easier-paced than Centurion's and, in the absence of much new ball swing for Bollinger or Mitchell Johnson, Kallis and Smith made progress that was initially measured before accelerating visibly.

Smith, not in the best of touch before this innings, unleashed a string of strokes through the offside that contradicted his reputation as a bottom-hand dragger to leg. With each drive, Smith regathered a little more confidence, helped along by Kallis' instant show of confidence upon replacing Amla. In the second over Kallis hooked fearlessly at Johnson and cleared the fence, and he continued in that vein.

Smith departed via a video referral when he attempted to reverse sweep Steve Smith and could only glove a catch to Haddin, while Kallis took on Clarke's sharp left arm and was nearly a metre short when the stumps went down.

Faf du Plessis wandered down the wicket to be stumped in the midst of a fine spell by Xavier Doherty, but Miller showed his intent second ball by plonking Smith beyond long off for six, and he kept it up while Duminy played himself back towards form after an indifferent start to the series.

Miller's departure was the signal for Duminy to take up the role of aggressor, and he did so with a pair of towering sixes from the bowling of Cummins, who had dismissed him in each of their previous three encounters on this tour.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo