Australia read from same script to take second ODI
With only a few minor alterations, Australia and South Africa read from a script first used at the Wanderers last Friday. This time round, however, Australia increased their winning margin to 45 runs as they took a 2-0 after the second of the Standard Bank One-Day Internationals at SuperSport Park on Sunday.
Again Australia batted first - although on this occasion they were asked to do by Shaun Pollock; again they cobbled together a total (226 for eight) that seemed perhaps 30 or 40 runs light; and again South Africa's top and middle order collapsed.
The sense of déjà vu went so far as to include another defiant attempt by Lance Klusener to rescue a lost cause. Once again, though, his efforts were in vain as South Africa were bowled out for 181, Klusener's contribution being a thunderous, run-a-ball 59.
For this match Australia were forced into two changes to the side that won on Friday. One of them involved giving Jimmy Maher only his third match in an international one-day career that started four years ago. The 28-year-old Maher made the most of this rare opportunity, holding the innings together with a thoughtful 95 and sharing in Australia's two key partnerships.
The first, with Matthew Hayden, produced 85 for the second wicket and then, after Nicky Boje had accounted for Hayden and Ricky Ponting in successive deliveries, Maher and Damien Martyn added 93 for the fourth wicket.
The stand ended when Martyn was caught behind off Roger Telemachus for 42. Batsman and bowlers exchanged words as Martyn departed and Telemachus sent Martyn on his way with a two-fingered gesture. It is understood that the explanation from the dressing room is that Telemachus was indicating that it was the second time in as many games that he has taken Martyn's wicket. Whether match referee Cammie Smith will buy this one remains to be seen.
Telemachus also picked up the wicket of Maher, caught on the cover boundary as Australia attempted to step up the moment in the closing overs of their innings. He would have been disappointed to have fallen only five runs short and, indeed, Australia might have felt they didn't kick on with sufficient vigour.
Overall, though, South Africa did a good job in the field with Shaun Pollock taking four for 32 to suggest that he is regaining his sharpness.
At bat, though, South Africa started badly and got worse, slipping to 110 for seven before Klusener found his range. There were two wickets apiece for Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie and two quite outstanding run outs effected by Ponting's quickness and accuracy in the field to get rid of Boeta Dippenaar and Pollock.
He also snapped up two excellent catches and if Jonty Rhodes won the personal duel in the field between the two in the first game at the Wanderers, Ponting walked this one. His direct hit to run out Dippenaar came in with razor sharp accuracy and it was his speed to the balls and quickness of release that caught Pollock short as he tried to get back into his ground.
With Klusener around, though, South Africa still had a sniff. He spent much of 2001 fiddling around with his bottom hand having taken over almost completely, but he has found his range again since being dropped from the Test side in Australia and while he was hitting, Australia could never be entirely sure of victory.
This effort contained four huge sixes (two of them coming off successive Shane Watson deliveries), but eventually his luck ran out when he holed out at cow corner off Darren Lehmann.
Australia, then, have put some space between themselves and South Africa. With five matches in the series remaining, the home side have to win four to deny the Australians. And for that to happen, the top order needs to function.