Take that ... and that ... Graeme Smith takes control for South Africa
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He said he would do it. He did it. Graeme Smith led South Africa to a convincing victory with a magnificent unbeaten century in the first one-dayer at Centurion. Smith followed up his 89 not out on Friday with an unbeaten 119 today and batted like nothing's been wrong. Things are certainly all right just now.
Undeterred by rain breaks, undeterred by recent troubles - or perhaps spurred on by them - Smith slapped, bashed and punched his way to a sixth ODI century and, crucially, he did it with the balance and timing that have been absent of late. As he brought up his century he couldn't hide his relief or his delight - and nor should he - but otherwise determination was writ large on his face.
AB de Villiers joined Smith in a third-wicket stand of 83 which took the game away from Australia, who probably suspected they had posted too few runs on the board, anyway. de Villiers played some sumptuous off-side strokes, in his 43, although he had a let-off on 12 with Shane Watson making a second sloppy fielding error.
Just as de Villiers was starting to really enjoy himself, including helping Smith to take apart one Mitchell Johnson over for 19, the stand-in skipper Adam Gilchrist introduced a change of pace and Brad Hogg struck with his first ball. But good decisions were rare for Gilchrist, who chose to bat on a stodgy wicket that began to dry up when South Africa took to the crease. Yet the captain wasn't entirely to blame. There wasn't much he could do about lacklustre fielding - though there were moments of brilliance, too - nor the fact that not all of his bowling attack fired.
Brett Lee went for 0 for 59 with the ball, although he did contribute 38 not out, his third-highest one-day score. Neither was there much magic for Johnson, whose three overs went for 28. There was the odd positive for Australia, including Nathan Bracken who bowled with pleasing control.
South Africa's bowlers must be given credit for setting up the victory. It was a great, sustained effort, backed up by some quality fielding. The outstanding piece was de Villiers' catch at cover to dismiss Clarke, which was impressive even by his mighty-fine standards.
Early inroads were made into the Australian line-up when Shaun Pollock and the returning Makhaya Ntini reignited their opening partnership with outstanding success to reduce the visitors to 25 for 3. If Ntini was low on confidence on returning to the side after an iffy Twenty20 display, you wouldn't have known it as he and Pollock tucked up Australia with some controlled aggression, providing their visitors with a potent reminder of just what they can do when bowling together. Their main strategy, and it was an effective one, was pure and simple line-and-length.
Ntini put paid to both Simon Katich and Gilchrist early on and Pollock trapped Damien Martyn to worry the Australians. Their middle order got miked up with Messrs Hussey and Clarke beginning to announce a recovery and together they put on 100. But just after they had each reached fifty, Pollock pulled the plug on both and the innings began to fizzle out.
Lee added some charge at the end - he and Watson added 51 for the seventh wicket - but there just wasn't enough amp, or oomph, in the overall effort. Australia definitely missed the injured Andrew Symonds.
What neither side emphatically did not miss, though, were the Supersubs. While both teams named one, in a nod to the rules, neither team used theirs - a gentleman's agreement to make the game more straightforward. Straightforward was what Smith was, too. And today his approach paid off.
How they were out
Simon Katich b Ntini 2 (4 for 1)
Big inside edge removed leg stump
Damien Martyn lbw b Pollock 1 (5 for 2)
Nipped back, plumb
Adam Gilchrist c Nel b Ntini 14 (25 for 3)
Miscued hook ballooned to mid-on
Michael Clarke c de Villiers b Pollock 53 (125 for 4)
Blinding catch at cover
Mike Hussey c Dippenaar b Pollock 56 (132 for 5)
Mistimed pull to deep-midwicket
Brad Hogg run out (Gibbs) 13 (157 for 6)
Smooth collect-and-shy from cover, direct hit
Shane Watson b Hall 22 (208 for 7)
Nathan Bracken run out (Ntini/Boucher) 16 (227 for 8)
Farcical run out at non-striker's end off wide
Boeta Dippenaar b Bracken 10 (24 for 1)
Trapped in crease, bottom edge took off-stump
Herschelle Gibbs run out (Clarke) 0 (28 for 2)
Sensational - a lightning run out at non-striker's end
AB de Villiers c Gilchrist b Hogg 43 (111 for 3)
Strangled on Nelson attempting a big cut shot
Mark Boucher run out (Katich/Lee) 4 (134 for 4)
Should never have run on this misfield - Boucher sacrificed himself
Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo