Australia beat SA to level series at 1-1

South Africa found run-scoring difficult in Hobart as they succumbed to a five-run defeat in the second one-day international against Australia on Sunday to leave the five-match series level at 1-1.

After Australia scored 249-9 in their 50 overs after being sent in to bat, South Africa finished on 244-6 after a poorly managed run-chase saw them needing 17 runs in the last over.

The Australian total was based on an inspired second-wicket stand of 135 in 25 overs between Shaun Marsh and Ricky Ponting, which lifted the home side from a slow start thanks to excellent new-ball bowling by Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini.

But the Australians rather did not know what to do with their solid platform and their innings meandered to its end, the last 20 overs bringing just 92 runs for seven wickets, thanks largely to Ntini tearing through the lower-order to finish with 3-39.

Ponting, who was dropped twice, finally departed the scene after a hard-hit 64 off 72 balls when he pulled Jacques Kallis to deep backward square-leg, while Marsh fell to JP Duminy’s little off-breaks, Herschelle Gibbs taking a sharp catch at extra cover to end an innings of 78 off 103 balls.

But despite their comeback in the field, South Africa could only accumulate runs at a trickle.

Hashim Amla disappointed as he fell early, caught in the slips for eight off Ben Hilfenhaus, before Herschelle Gibbs (19) once again flattered to deceive.

Kallis (72) and AB de Villiers (44) made a major dent in the target with their third-wicket stand of 93 in 20 overs, but Kallis cut Hilfenhaus to backward point and De Villiers was run out by Ryan Harris, on debut, as he slipped attempting a second run.

South Africa then needed 92 runs off 14 overs, which surely called for the hitting skills of Albie Morkel, but instead Neil McKenzie, JP Duminy and Mark Boucher all came in ahead of the match-winner, allowing Australia to maintain a tight grip on affairs.

Left-arm seamer Nathan Bracken was particularly parsimonious, allowing just 38 runs off his 10 overs, and being directly responsible for the run out of a frustrated Duminy for 35.

But South Africa left themselves with too much to do as they finally turned to Morkel with 41 runs needed off three overs.

Boucher, with 37 not out off 32 balls, was able to get them to touching distance but was unable to reproduce the heroics for which he is famous for in the past.

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