An Aaron Finch century led Australia to 329-5 in the third ODI of the five-match series in Canberra on Wednesday.
George Bailey won the toss and elected to bat on an absolute belter of a wicket. The opening pair got the hosts off to the perfect start, putting on 118 before David Warner fell for a 50-ball 53 off the last ball of the 20th over.
Shane Watson strode to the wicket at No 3 and scored a fluent 40 off 38 deliveries. He tried to take advantage of the part-time seamer, Farhaan Behardien, and was caught on the boundary. At the other end, Finch reached his ton. Just when it looked as if the burley opener was going to really cut loose, he suffered the embarrassment of being bowled by AB de Villiers. His 109 off 127 balls should more than make up for it, though.
Steve Smith used his improvisation to hit strange areas at the end of the innings and propelled Australia to 329-5. He finished unbeaten with 73 off just 55 balls and once again reminded the selectors of his value in the ODI format.
With such a big total, it’s not surprising that the bowling figures didn’t make pretty reading. After going for 19 off the final over of the innings, Morne Morkel haemorrhaged 84 runs in his 10 overs. Vernon Philander went for 70 in his ration and the usually misery Imran Tahir leaked 40 runs in just six overs.
The two guys that can hold their heads high are Dale Steyn and Farhaan Behardien. Steyn returned figures of 0-53 in 10 overs, while the Titans all-rounded finished with 1-39 in eight overs. On a flat deck, they did just enough to ensure South Africa have a chance of chasing down the target.