Morkel gives South Africa the edge

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Published: Sunday 16th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Morne Morkel was at his most menacing as he recorded career-best one-day international figures to help South Africa level their series against Australia in a low-scoring match in Perth.

The lanky paceman exploited favourable pace and bounce at the WACA en route to taking five for 21 as the hosts were blown away for 154 inside 42 overs.

Yet with Australia boasting their own enviable fast bowling talents on such a juicy pitch, a Proteas victory was not a given.

And so it proved as Josh Hazlewood’s own five-wicket haul set up a nervy finale, with the tourists eventually getting over the line to win by three wickets, thanks in part to AB de Villiers’ counter-attacking 48 from 41 deliveries.

Having lost Friday’s first encounter, South Africa were eager to bounce back and made the ideal start despite losing the toss when the explosive David Warner was given out on review for a five-ball duck after nicking behind from a Morkel lifter.

Fellow opener Aaron Finch also failed to make much of an impression, contributing just eight before carelessly driving Dale Steyn to Morkel positioned at mid-on, while Farhaan Behardien had Shane Watson trapped in front for 11 .

Steve Smith needlessly top-edged another bouncer from Morkel and Imran Tahir took a steepling catch at mid-on before captain George Bailey and local boy Mitchell Marsh steadied the ship with a half-century partnership.

That was ended on 58 when Bailey, attempting to pull, miscued his stroke off Vernon Philander to Faf du Plessis at mid-on to depart for 25.

Morkel was then brought back into the attack for the batting powerplay and he had Matthew Wade caught down the legside on review for 19 with his second ball, while Glenn Maxwell chopped on to his stumps two deliveries later.

Mitchell Johnson then edged through to the wicketkeeper to give Morkel his five-for as Australia veered towards complete collapse.

Only a battling half-century from Marsh lifted them beyond 150, with the promising all-rounder hitting a couple of lusty blows for six before he was last man out for 67, as he picked out Morkel at short fine-leg off the bowling of Steyn, who finished with figures of three for 35.

While many would have expected the fiery Johnson to spearhead Australia’s unlikely push for victory, he was put in the shade by Hazlewood’s sublime efforts.

He struck in the second over to remove Quinton de Kock, who thick edged for Watson to take a high catch at first slip, before Johnson had Hashim Amla caught behind, his only scalp in the innings.

Rilee Rossouw, who had made four ducks in his previous six ODIs, eased the pressure with three consecutive fours off Nathan Coulter-Nile but he fell for a quickfire 30 after edging Maxwell to slip.

New batsman De Villiers continued the counter-attack, plundering back-to-back fours off the beleaguered Coulter-Nile before then crashing three fours in an over off Johnson.

Yet Hazlewood pegged back the Proteas by accounting for Du Plessis and Behardien in successive deliveries, which appeared to stymie South Africa’s run-rate.

The building pressure led to De Villiers giving the charge to Hazlewood only to get a thick edge which was well pouched by Wade.

The pressure then cranked up a notch when Philander could only fend to gully to gave Hazlewood his maiden five-wicket international haul.

But with just two runs required for victory, Steyn crashed a four down the ground two balls later to give South Africa a thrilling win after 27.4 overs.

Published: Sunday 16th November 2014 by The News Editor

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