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South Africa were keen to take the fight to their opponents but they were on the wrong foot. They had lost Graeme Smith, who had charged Nathan Bracken in the third over and been bowled. If ever a Jacques Kallis-like innings was needed, it was now. The ball was swinging, and the South Africa late order was packed with power-hitters. But South Africa, who had acquired a reputation for inflexibility both in their bowling and thinking, had obviously made up their minds that the only way to put pressure on Australia was to go hard at them.
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Kallis, who despite being their highest scorer in the World Cup had been criticised for not stepping up a gear or two, seemed to choose this game as the one in which to repair his reputation, with disastrous results. He made room and advanced down the track, but he had chosen the wrong man to target. McGrath coolly fired in an inch-perfect yorker and it clattered onto the stumps.
Shaun Tait, bowling a memorable spell at the other end, removed AB de Villiers before McGrath sealed the deal. Even when he bowled a poor ball he claimed a wicket - Ashwell Prince, chasing a delivery that would have been called wide. The next ball was the complete opposite: perfect line and length outside off stump, bringing a thick edge to first slip from Mark Boucher.
Justin Kemp survived the hat-trick delivery but the stunned expressions on South Africa's balcony told the story. South Africa had lost half their side with less than 30 on the board, and McGrath had accounted for three of their most obdurate batsmen.
This article was first published in 2014