Brett Lee secured a career-best return and Phil Jaques enjoyed a record-breaking one-day entry as Australia easily accounted for South Africa at Melbourne's Telstra Dome. The match was played with the roof closed, but while the tourists were protected from the rain they could do little to escape the power of Jaques, who fell six short of a century, and Lee as he charged Australia to a 59-run victory.
The breathless arrival of Jaques, which included 14 fours from 112 balls, pushed Australia's first innings, but it faltered on his departure and they lost 7 for 73 against testing bowling and scrambled to 245. Lee, who finished with 5 for 22 from ten overs and the Man-of-the-Match award, proved it was enough on a pitch with variable bounce in two devastating spells that rocked the top order and rolled the middle.
South Africa recovered from the Lee-inflicted early damage of 2 for 16 with Boeta Dippenaar's cautious 41, but they were drifting helplessly again after Ricky Ponting recalled Lee in the 32nd over and he fired three more blows. Dippenaar, Ashwell Prince and Justin Kemp were bowled in a 10-ball sequence that ended South Africa's chances as they spluttered to 6 for 123.
Brag Hogg returned for this match as Supersub and showed there was another way to break through vulnerable defences by claming 3 for 32, but nothing could match Lee's speed and accuracy. The opener Graeme Smith's wretched tour continued when he edged Lee to Brad Haddin for 9 and Andrew Hall, who was promoted to No. 3, was beaten for pace as the ball seared between his bat and pad.
Lee gave up 13 runs in his first five overs and received crucial support from Glenn McGrath as he went for 15 from his opening six. South Africa were battling with only 27 from ten overs and 34 off 15, allowing the inexperienced duo of James Hopes and Brett Dorey, who claimed a wicket on debut when he ended Shaun Pollock's late spray of four sixes in a 31-ball 46, to settle in. Dippenaar blunted the early assault and made useful contributions with Herschelle Gibbs (39) and Prince (21) before the gains were ruined by Lee and they were dismissed for 186.
The South Africans suffered similar experiences when they bowled: they added regular wickets, but their hopes of a small target were upset by Jaques. In steamy conditions, Jaques was drenched with sweat and made sure the bowlers also felt the heat as he became the country's highest scorer on debut, passing Kepler Wessels's 23-year-old mark of 79 against New Zealand. It was a good day for the first-gamers, with Johan van der Wath picking up Jaques and Michael Clarke after being brought in as a Supersub in the 18th over for Dale Steyn, who went for 56 in five overs.
Jaques's highlight was four consecutive boundaries from Steyn - the over eventually cost 24 and included the dismissal of Andrew Symonds - and he brought up his fifty with a thick-edged boundary from 55 balls. He was particularly strong square of the wicket and grabbed his opportunity after coming in as a late replacement for the injured Simon Katich. Aiming to be the fifth player to post a century in his first ODI, his introduction was ended by a doubtful caught-behind dismissal in the 33rd over that may have hit his bat, but definitely brushed his shoulder.
"I just wanted to back myself and play the way I played, and I was a little unfortunate to get out six runs short," Jaques said at the innings break. "I'm probably in the form of my life at the moment and to get the opportunity to play for your country like that is really good."
Australia were 5 for 177 when Jaques left and Hall did well to restrict the total with 4 for 35 as a storm hit the outside of the stadium. When the players returned from dinner Lee responded with a thundering performance to give his side a bonus point with their second win of the competition.
Graeme Smith c Haddin b Lee 9 (1 for 12)
No footwork and got a healthy edge
Andrew Hall b Lee 1 (2 for 16)
Ball angled in and dipped between bat and pad
Herschelle Gibbs lbw Hogg 39 (3 for 84)
Played tentative push to ball spinning back
Boeta Dippenaar b Lee 41 (4 for 114)
On back foot and another inside edge on to stumps
Ashwell Prince b Lee 21 (5 for 119)
Tried to force through off side and played on
Justin Kemp b Lee 3 (6 for 123)
Off-cutter stayed low
Mark Boucher lbw Hogg 5 (7 for 123)
Missed a sweep and dead in front
Johan van der Wath c Haddin b Hogg 0 (8 for 124)
Nicked trying to cut; well-taken by Haddin
Shaun Pollock c Haddin b Dorey 46 (9 for 185)
Outside edge attempting to slash through the off side
Garnett Kruger c Symonds b McGrath 0 (186)
Running back at mid-off for overhead take
Damien Martyn b Pollock 11 (1 for 17)
Stepped away trying to hit over cover and got inside edge on to stumps
Ricky Ponting c Smith b Hall 9 (2 for 55)
Played away from his body; smart lunging catch at first slip
Andrew Symonds c Prince b Steyn 7 (3 for 85)
Flicked hard to forward square leg and departed to sensational diving grab
Michael Clarke c Boucher b van der Wath 34 (4 for 172)
Moved away as he wanted to glide through gully
Phil Jaques c Boucher b van der Wath 94 (5 for 177)
Fended shorter ball at the body, but it looked to hit his arm
Brad Haddin b Pollock 1 (6 for 181)
Drove at a wide, wide ball, but collected a big inside edge
Michael Hussey c Kruger b Hall 18 (7 for 208)
Swiped pull shot to fine leg
Brett Lee b Smith 6 (8 for 221)
The third batsman to play-on
Brett Dorey c Kemp b Hall 2 (9 for 238)
Spooned to cover
James Hopes c Botha b Hall 38 (245)
Taken in the deep in the final over
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo