Melbourne, Jan 16 (IANS) SOuth Africa recovered in time from a middle-order collapse to pull off a stunning three-wicket victory in the final over in the first One-Day International cricket against Australia here Friday.
Chasing 272 to win, South Africa needed 50 from 30 balls with just three wickets in hand, but Albie Morkel blasted 40 off 18 balls to see the team through with three wickets in hand and three balls to spare.
South Africa were three for 90 in the 19th over before Jean Paul Duminy (71) and Neil Mckenzie (63) shared a 123-run stand. The fall of Duminy triggered a mini collapse as Australia strongly came back sniffing victory only to be thwarted by Morkel's blitzkrieg.
South Africa thus registered their sixth win from six ODIs against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground here.
Australia, electing to bat, rode on some luck and poor fielding by South Africa to put on a challenging target. Opener Shaun Marsh hit 79 off 97 balls with four fours and one six. Skipper Ricky Ponting scored 46 while David Hussey contributed 52.
South Africa's chase started poorly when Shaun Tait rattled Hashim Amla's stumps in the second over with only four runs on the board. Herschelle Gibbs (22) and Jacques Kallis (41) made starts but could not carry on.
Duminy, who has been the find of the tournament for South Africa, once again came for the team's rescue. He showed amazing control as he compiled 71 without a single boundary. Mckenzine hit six fours in his 80-ball 60.
Duminy finally fell to Nathan Bracken while McKenzie was dismissed by Ben Hilfenhaus, leaving the final task for the tailenders.
South Africa lost four wickets in a space of eight runs and were reduced to 221 for seven as the match looked like slipping out of their grasp. The last powerplay which South Africa took in the 45th over, however, did the trick. Morkel went after the bowling freely as Johan Botha (12) gave him company at the other end.
Morkel hit Hilfenhaus for four fours and a six as South Africa picked up 51 from the powerplay at a frenetic pace to go one-up in the five-match series.