Ricky Ponting is confident that Australia's series-ending victory in Johannesburg will give the team some spark heading into next week's one-day contest against Pakistan. Australia lost to South Africa 3-2 but the visitors claimed a comfortable 47-run win in the final game at the Wanderers, where their batsmen posted 303 for 7.
It left Australia with three wins from the ten ODIs they played against South Africa over the past three months, during which time Australia slipped from first on the ICC one-day rankings to third. The Johannesburg victory took them back up to second ahead of the series in the UAE, which will not feature Ponting, Mitchell Johnson or Michael Hussey, all of whom are being rested.
"It's a good way to finish," Ponting told AFP. "We were pretty disappointed with the way we played over the last few games so to bounce back today is a good thing for the group. It's been a really tough few months of cricket. It's just a bit of a shame that it has taken until the last game for some of our better cricket to come out.
"We definitely batted with a lot more freedom tonight than we probably had in the last few games. It's pleasing to finish the series the way we have. Yes it's disappointing to have lost the series but we wanted to take whatever we could out of this last game.
"Certainly for the guys going to Dubai, they can take a bit of confidence out of that now and winning this game here. It's good to have that winning feeling back around the group again."
The leading scorers for Australia were Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke, who as vice-captain and captain respectively will be in charge of the side for the five-match ODI series against Pakistan, which starts on Wednesday. Nathan Hauritz also put in a strong performance and was named Man of the Match for his 2 for 34 and 24 not out, which was a good comeback after he was belted for 51 runs from seven overs in the previous game.
"It definitely wasn't a good day," Hauritz said of the Port Elizabeth match. "The most important thing is to learn from that. Tonight, I definitely made sure I put in everything that I needed to. It just happen to be my night where the plan came off. The wicket helped a little bit, too. Some spun and some skidded on, sort of like the Gabba bowling at night there."
Although the finale didn't go South Africa's way, there was still plenty for them to celebrate. They collected the series trophy and enjoyed their No. 1 status having beaten Australia convincingly in the 50-over format throughout the summer. Their captain Graeme Smith said it had been "a terrific summer for South African cricket".