Explosive Morkel leads SA to victory

Albie Morkel once again sped South Africa to victory as they won the third one-day international against Australia by three wickets with 21 balls remaining in Sydney on Friday.

South Africa were set 270 for victory, which no side has ever chased down at the Sydney Cricket Ground before, but Morkel blasted 40 off 22 balls to ensure the run-chase would be comfortable in the end.

He was helped considerably by Jacques Kallis (60) and Herschelle Gibbs (64), whose second-wicket stand of 96 in 13.4 overs provided the innings with a solid foundation.

Kallis was not only the rock of the innings—as has been customary down the years—but was also well up with the required run rate as he needed just 72 balls for his runs and placed the ball beautifully for his five fours, becoming the eighth batsman and first South African to pass 10 000 ODI runs in the process.

Gibbs, dropped by David Hussey in the first over, was close to his dazzling best as he collected 10 sumptuous fours and a six in his 52-ball masterpiece.

The excellence of spin bowler Johan Botha was another area where South Africa eclipsed the world champions, the off-spinner crippling the middle-order with 3-32 after Australia had made a belligerent start with Shaun Marsh (43), David Warner (69) and Ricky Ponting (29) taking them to 157-2 at the halfway stage of their innings.

Botha removed both Marsh and Ponting, and his spell in tandem with fellow off-spinner JP Duminy was the major reason why Australia fell away badly to be all out for 269 in the final over.

Makhaya Ntini got rid of David Hussey (36) and James Hopes (33) as the innings petered out, with Dale Steyn also claiming two wickets at the death.

Thanks to Gibbs and Kallis, South Africa were always up with the required run rate before seamers Mitchell Johnson, the superb Nathan Bracken and Shaun Tait each picked up a wicket to leave them struggling on 163-5 in the 29th over.

But Neil McKenzie steadied matters with a valuable 27, before Morkel’s ripper of an innings, which included six fours and a six, and another top-class finishing effort from Mark Boucher, who scored 31 not out, which included just a single boundary.

Morkel was particularly severe on Australia’s off-spinner, Nathan Hauritz, who he destroyed in the 46th over with a six and two fours.

South Africa are now 2-1 up in the five-match series and have shown lethal ability at the death to put the pressure firmly on the Australians.

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