Australia v South Africa, Tri-series, Harare August 27, 2014

No broken windows in run-fest

Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Australia and South Africa in Harare

Chancing the arm

AB de Villiers is one fielder most batsmen would risk to take on. But Australia's stand-in captain George Bailey was ready to challenge his opposite number, and he won. Bailey had only scored three runs and wanted to prevent getting stuck, so when he pushed the ball towards cover off Imran Tahir, he took off for a single and trusted his partner, Aaron Finch to do the same. Finch responded as quickly as Bailey would have wanted but de Villiers did too. He performed the customary one-move-pick-and-release and had he hit the stumps at the striker's end, Finch would have been out. For once, de Villiers missed.

The clothing claims one

Bailey had absorbed pressure, bided time, and was just ready to get going in the final 10 overs. He pivoted like a ballerina to pull a back-of-a-length Morne Morkel delivery to backward square leg and was setting up to do it again when extra bounce and a ball that straightened a touch cut him in half. Morkel appealed for a catch off the outside edge, which seemed a long shot until the umpire responded in the affirmative. Bailey grinned in disbelief, knowing the ball had brushed the trouser pocket on its way through, as replays later confirmed, by which time he may not have found being dismissed by his own clothing very funny at all.

The conundrum

With Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir having bowled out, Ryan McLaren's death bowling a little too alive for South Africa's liking and Mitchell Johnson's menacing presence at the other end, de Villiers was not quite sure who to task with sending down the final six deliveries. He eventually decided on a man who had already conceded almost eight an over, Wayne Parnell, whose figures were bent out of shape even more. Parnell offered the full range: short, length and full, but Johnson hit each of them to the boundary. Parnell's final over cost 20 runs and South Africa were left needing a new hangman.

Hashim Amla waits on a decision

The ever-ready walker, Hashim Amla was making his way off the field after being satisfied that Steven Smith had taken the catch which dismissed him cleanly, but he was stopped in his tracks by the umpires. They wanted to check whether Smith's forward dive and snatch of the ball happened before it touched the ground and they were not going to take his word for it. With picture quality hardly state of the art, the replays were not conclusive but Amla was eventually sent on his way, which was where he was headed anyway.

Mind the windows, AB

Johnson's crunching straight hit down the ground in the series opener against Zimbabwe shattered one of the commentary box windows, and it appeared that de Villiers would inflict similar damage when he swiped Smith towards the glass-paned corporate boxes at the City End of Harare Sports Club. This time, however, somebody had opened the sliding windows so the ball sailed into the box somewhat harmlessly. Not so harmless was the damage inflicted on Smith's figures. His two overs cost 20 runs, and with Glenn Maxwell faring little better, Australia paid the price for not including a specialist spinner on a pitch that took some turn.

The drops

As well as he batted, overcoming cramp to race to a match-winning 18th ODI hundred, de Villiers should have been out twice before he reached the landmark. The first chance he offered came when he was on 78, and well set. He pushed awkwardly at a Johnson slower ball to offer the bowler the easiest of waist-high chances. Johnson, however, grassed it, and in the very next over, Bailey, ordinarily one of the safest pairs of hands on the field, fumbled an equally simple opportunity at point. De Villiers was not so gracious as to offer a third chance, as he compiled an unbeaten 136 to help his team to a memorable seven-wicket win.

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town; Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Fazal on August 28, 2014, 23:22 GMT

    Duncanmoo: Unlike South Africa Australia has not played any cricket since the World T20 in April and still look rather rusty coming out after the winter break where no cricket is played in the major cities in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth while South Africa have been involved in the game for the past two months or so playing test cricket and limited overs cricket against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. As a result it would take sometime before the aussies acclimatise and settle down to the conditions in Zimbabwe. South Africa also had the added advantage and knowledge of the nature of the wicket in Harare having already played against Zimbabwe and that's why they chose to field first after winning the toss.No doubt South Africa is a tough side and together with Australia is a major contendor to win the 2015 World Cup in Australia.

  • Mark on August 28, 2014, 10:24 GMT

    Parnell has had his time and has not been consistent enough to warrant his place...Abbott or better, bring in De Lange....

  • Ross on August 28, 2014, 7:43 GMT

    Parnell has a knack for taking wickets, but he is no death bowler. Abbott is a better bowler in general, but Parnell the better bat, Morne Morkel could be a death bowler if he tried to bowl like Joel Garner did. Unfortunately he pitches it too short.

  • Shane on August 28, 2014, 7:14 GMT

    Why didn't Bailey refer? Is there no DRS? Why not?

  • Blessing on August 28, 2014, 6:09 GMT

    No windows distroyed by Johnson but AB and FAF sure did destroy his bowling!!. Out of form maybe or proving again that he performs to his best once every half a decade?

  • Fazal on August 28, 2014, 1:54 GMT

    There is no excuse for the loss. Even if Lyon had played the result would have been the same or even worse because he is not a quality spin bowler of international standard but keeps getting picked hoping that he will come good eyerytime. Even after the Adelaide test against S. Africa three years ago where he failed to bowl them out to win the match and the test series on a turning wicket he still remains a permanrnt member of this aussie side. Now the selectors have decided that he is good enough for the limited overs format as well while Australia's number one spinner Steve O'Keefe is still languishing back home without a game in nearly five years despite his fine performance against S. Africa A recently while Lyon failed to take a single wicket against India A after being clobberd for 140 runs. If the selectors are really serious about winning the 2015 World Cup this would have been an ideal opportunity to give O'Keefe a chance. Even Murali won't be able turn Lyon into a genius

  • Paul on August 27, 2014, 21:42 GMT

    Spot on, duncanmoo, but now we're awake. Great to see SA hitting form, coming into a World Cup. Makes what always happens to them all the more enjoyable. Their bowling seems to be suffering now that AB doesn't have the gloves... funny that.

  • Duncan on August 27, 2014, 19:30 GMT

    I suppose the Australian supporters went to sleep before the game was finished. Or perhaps they ran out of their pre-series bluster after today. Now we just need Zim to beat the Australians, THEN I will be over the moon!

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