Australia have gone 1-0 up in the series after a 32-run victory over South Africa in the One Day International at the WACA in Perth on Friday.
On a lively pitch in perfect conditions, Australia set a competitive total thanks to a valuable 70(75) runs from George Bailey in the middle of the innings. 4 wickets from Vernon Philander and an impressive 80 from ‘ICC ODI Player of the Year’ AB de Villiers could not win it for the Proteas as the Aussies bowled and fielded well to claim.
The openers got Australia off to a flyer after Clarke won the toss, with a partnership of 94-runs from the first 14 overs. David Warner hit a solid 46(49) including 3 sixes and a boundary. Aaron Finch supported well, whacking four boundaries and a six of his own for a total of 35(40).
Both men were dismissed within two balls. Warner mistimed a pull-shot off Philander to deep square-leg where he was caught well by a diving Ryan McLaren. Vernon Philander had Finch two balls later, edging to the keeper de Kock off a ball on an excellent length.
Shane Watson (13) and Michael Clarke (11) came and went, looking confident but under-performing again as they both seek time in the middle after their recent returns after stints on the sideline through injury.
Clarke re-aggravated his hamstring again and was forced to take an early shower. The captain is set to get scans Saturday morning to assess the extent damage.
Mitchell Marsh looked ready to hit a big score, but was bowled by Philander for 10 after edging on to his stumps.
Vice-captain George Bailey played the big innings that Australia needed. Hitting 70 runs from 75 balls he started slowly, but wound up his innings with 3 massive sixes and 3 cracking boundaries. South Africa hurting after dropping Bailey twice early in his innings.
Supported well by Matthew Wade (35) and Glenn Maxwell (29) Bailey turned the innings in the favour of the home-side helping the Aussies post a competitive total of 8/300 from their 50 overs.
South Africa got off to a slow start, losing both openers early caught behind by Matthew Wade off the bowling of ICC Player of the Year Mitchell Johnson (2.38.10). Wade took five catches behind the stumps in the match.
South Africa consolidated through Francois du Plessis (31) and Farhaan Behardien (20) to a steady 2/52 before Watson and a rampaging Nathan Coulter-Nile broke the momentum, putting the Proteas on the ropes at 4/76 in the 16th over.
AB de Villiers and David Miller put on a 100-run 5th-wicket partnership, both hitting half-centuries as the visitors mounted an attack on the total.
Again it was Coulter-Nile who broke the deadlock along with some superb Aussie fielding.
Chipping away at de Villiers’ batting partners, Coulter-Nile removed Miller (65), McLaren (0) and Dale Steyn (6) with some short fizzing bouncers in a superb spell of fast bowling, consistently in excess of 140 km/h.
Josh Hazlewood bowled tight lines at the other end creating pressure for the batsmen.
The controversially excluded Steve Smith jumped on a communication error by the batsmen to remove de Villiers with an athletic lunge and throw at the bowlers-end as the substitute fielder for the injured Clarke.
Putting up a last-gasp effort the 9 and 10 batsmen, Tahir and Morkel, combined for 46 runs to bring the total to within 32 runs from the final two overs.
Glenn Maxwell nabbed the final wicket, claiming a confidence boosting victory in the opening match of the four-game ODI series for Australia by 32 runs.