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.
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.
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.