At Adelaide, January 26, 2009 (day/night). South Africa won by eight wickets. Toss: Australia.
When he addressed the press on the eve of this Australia Day match, Ponting spoke of all the areas in which his team could not afford to lapse. The top order had to make a start; the batsmen underneath had to keep their cool through the middle; and the younger players needed to adapt to roles they might not have been familiar with in state cricket. Wise words, but they were to look empty by the time South Africa completed victory with all of 71 balls to spare. There were no obvious excuses for Australia's modest total. The Adelaide pitch was typically pristine and the sun beat down hard on the visiting pacemen. Yet both openers found ways to get out before they were settled, and although he top-scored Ponting made perhaps the gravest error by pushing Ntini straight to short cover in the 21st over. The batting powerplay remained an irritating distraction, and more wickets in the middle - two to the nagging Botha - meant that this time it was taken with tailender Hilfenhaus at the crease. The day's most thrilling passages took place at the start of South Africa's reply, as Gibbs pinged eight boundaries with typical impudence. After he and Kallis fell to over-excited shots, Amla and de Villiers sealed the match, and the series, by adding 144 in 26 overs against some increasingly dispirited bowling.
Man of the Match: A. B. de Villiers.