Melbourne: South Africa beat Australia by three wickets with three balls to spare in the first one-day international (ODI) against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Australia reaching an imposing 271 for eight, with opener Shaun Marsh leading the way with 79, adding 94 with Ricky Ponting (46) while David Hussey smashed a rapid 52.
South Africa stumbled to 90-3 in reply before JP Duminy (71) and Neil McKenzie (63) added 123 for the fourth wicket. But despite Australia regaining the advantage after the visitors lost four wickets for eight runs to slump to 221 for seven, Albie Morkel (40 not out from 18 balls) and Johan Botha saw them home with three balls to spare.
Duminy passed 50 for the fifth time in his last seven innings for the Proteas in all formats of the game, and remarkably, he has yet to win a man of the match award on this tour. But there has always been somebody who has managed to go one better.
For a while it looked as though the South Africa had lost their way when three quick wickets fell in succession – Duminy, Mark Boucher and Vaughn van Jaarsveld – before McKenzie followed shortly afterwards.
Man of the match Albie Morkel and captain Johan Botha, needed 50 runs off the last five overs, but they did have the advantage of having the final batting power play at their disposal. And that proved to be a crucial factor.
Morkel finished unbeaten on 40 off 18 balls, while Botha also played his part – although not quite as spectacularly. Morkel had earlier taken two wickets and been involved in a successful run out.
Botha said afterwards that the plan had always been to take the batting power play as late as possible.
“But then we lost some quick wickets and I told Albie that we should take the power play immediately and as it turned out it meant taking it after 44 overs rather than 45.
“We couldn't leave Morne (Morkel) and Dale (Steyn) to do the hitting at the end."
Botha said that it was obviously the most significant win of his captaincy.
The series continues in Hobart on Sunday.