The battle for supremacy continues
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Player:RT Ponting, MEK Hussey, DW Steyn, WD Parnell
Event:Australia in South Africa 2008/09

DateLine: 8th April 2009


The one-day series between South Africa and Australia has all the ingredients of two top champions engaged in a joust for supremacy. It has swung like a pendulum with neither side being able to conclusive claim to have killed the beast.


The Test series saw Australia recover from the reverses suffered at home to go 2-0 up before losing by an innings in the third. Then the South Africans came back to claim the Twenty20 duel. Australia, not to be outdone, came back to win the first One-Day International at Durban by a pretty solid 141 margin. Even as it looked like the tide was turning again, back came the hosts, blasting the Aussies out for 131 runs at Centurion and walking away with a seven-wicket win. Which shifts the action to Newlands in Cape Town, with three to go, and donít be surprised if it goes down to the wire.


It has largely all boiled down to how Australia bat, really. Graeme Smith seems to be unable to win a toss, irrespective of which coin he uses. Invariably, Ricky Ponting, after having called correctly, opted to bat. The plot thereafter was decided by how the visitors batted. In Durban, Brad Haddin and Ponting put up 77 runs after losing Michael Clarke early, and with Mike Hussey coming good, the total of 286 ended up being too much for the South Africans, though surely they would have expected a close match.


Sadly, that was not to be and the off-spin of Nathan Hauritz ended up being the secret weapon for Ponting and Co. The home batsmen showed promise in fits and bursts, but never enough to really pose a challenge. The plot changed with the batting fortunes at Centurion. Ponting won again, and would have been expecting another serious total from the batters. But this time, it was the Proteas who partied and 131 was not target at all. For the South Africans, Dale Steyn and young left-armer Wayne Parnell sorted out the game before 20 over were complete, and after that Australia couldnít get past damage control.


So what does Newlands promise? It promises a lot, since the bounce here can work both ways. While the success of a team synchronised with its batting success or failure has often given 50-over games a bit of predictability, one would always settle for a close game. These two teams have played several such over the years and one would dearly love to see another.


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