After a dramatic batting collapse saw Australia lose the first one day match against South Africa, a second low total of 231 batting first in the second looked ominous. The Aussie bowlers, however, rediscovered their form (briefly) to hold South Africa to 220 and level the series.
In the final match, on Sunday, Australia’s bowlers struck early to have South Africa at 3/55 off 15 overs. Faf du Plessis and David Miller, however, refused to follow the script and dug themselves in on a tricky Hobart wicket before accelerating, each posting centuries.
Australia’s death bowling, which had served them so well in the second match, deserted them in the third, as South Africa smashed 130 runs off the last 10 overs. The final total of 320 looked intimidatingly high, given Australia had not yet survived an entire innings in the series and their top score was 231. It was especially demoralising considering the dire straits the Proteas were in after 15 overs.
Australia started poorly, down 3/39 before Marcus Stoinis and Shaun Marsh combined at the crease. The pair reached a century partnership before Stoinis was dismissed, with Marsh going on to get a stunning century on his own.
Some late fireworks from Alex Carey, who cemented his place in this series as the Aussie one day wicketkeeper, and Glenn Maxwell raised Australia’s hopes of a miracle run chase. In fact Australia needed only 105 off the last 10 overs, which was doable – especially on a wicket where South Africa smashed 130 in the same position.
However the loss of the last two recognised batsmen in the Australian line up, combined with excellent death bowling, restricted the Aussies to 65 runs in that crucial period, for a total of 280. On a positive note this was by far Australia’s highest total for the series, and the first time Australia completed their allotted 50 overs.
Australia’s batting rapidly improved as the series went on, and the middle order became less prone to collapse. The world class fast bowling unit of Mitch Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins also showed glimpses of their best form, in the second match and the first part of the third.
The backup bowlers were also impressive, with Marcus Stoinis the pick of the bowlers and Glenn Maxwell impressive for his economy rates – including saving the second game with his death bowling in the final over. However, if you want to watch Australia win this summer, the women’s team are your best bet.