Proteas Take Commonwealth Bank Series in Adelaide ODI

Otto SaaymanContributor IJanuary 28, 2009

Few cricket lovers, fans or experts, myself included, would have been bold enough to predict that South Africa would manage to win a Test match and ODI series in Australia this summer.

Such an idea might have been conceivable in the Test matches, but the ODI series would have been where most realistic experts would have given it to Australia in a heartbeat.

This time South Africa managed to strike early dismissing Dave Warner for one off seven balls in the second over and Shaun Marsh for just 13 off nine balls in the third. Australia were 17 for two when Ricky Ponting was joined by Mike Hussey. The pair added 93 runs before Mike Hussey was dismissed by a controversial LBW decision off the bowling of Botha for 28 off 37 balls.

Ponting soon followed having scored 63 off 70 balls. He was caught at short cover by McKenzie off a wide-ish Ntini delivery, that he could have left alone. Another dismal middle order performance with only Dave Hussey (24 off 29), Cameron White (30 off 54) and James Hopes (42 off 44) scoring more than 10.

Australia crashed to 222 all out after 48 overs.

Once more Australia failed to reach 300 after they looked well set to do so at 110 for three in the 20th over. Once again Johan Botha (10 overs two for 28) tied them down and uprooted their batsmen with good bowling and good steady captaincy.

South Africa looked to be on top. Their well-earned reputation as "big occasion chokers" the only thing that would stand in their way after chasing two ot of three totals set by Australia in this ODI series and nearly pipping the hosts in Hobart. It was truly up to the Proteas to lose the match.

Enter Hashim Amla and Herschelle Gibbs. Two men with a lot to prove. Gibbs only recently back from the doldrums, and Amla looking to improve on his brain freeze in the last match.

Gibbs (38 off 29 balls) was in a very destructive mood. Dismissively he drove and sometimes just slapped good deliveries to the boundaries as only Gibbs can. His confidence got the better of him in the end as he was caught by Mike Hussey off the bowling of Hilfenhaus in the 10th over with the score on 58.

Jacques Kallis was dismissed for 13 off 12 balls (caught Marsh bowled Hopes) in the 13th over with the score on 79. Little did Australia know that his was to be their last wicket before South Africa clinched the series.

Hashim Amla (80 off 103) and AB de Villiers (82 off 85) displayed awesome control and class as they took the Proteas to an inevitable match and series win. Amla played the anchor role and de Villiers took the Ausie bowlers to the sword in fine style.

Both men were exhausted by the end of the match, in the 39th over, but they prevailed.

Neither player looked under pressure at any time, thanks in part to Gibbs's run-fest in the first 10 overs. Ricky Ponting's men and the Australian fans were forced to watch as the required run rate just kept steadily dropping to 0.

The two batsmen gave Australia an object lesson in top and middle-order batting. Cool and calm. Steady and yet aggressive.

AB de Villiers was declared the man of the match. South Africa can now look forward to a calm day out in Perth before they return home as national heroes. They will be greeted as such by a South African nation hungry for some good news reported by sports teams returning from down-under.