Aussies rout South Africans

The first ever international Twenty20 clash in Australia ended with a massive 95 run win for the Aussies at the Gabba.

A record crowd of almost 40,000 saw the Aussies clinically dismantle the South Africans with a commanding display of power hitting from Damien Martyn and Andrew Symonds, and then some disciplined line and length bowling from the inexperienced bowling attack.

The match began with Australian captain Ricky Ponting winning the toss and electing to bat on an excellent batting pitch. The captain said before the match that he did not know what a safe total was for this form of the game, but his batsmen certainly did, attacking from the outset to set a huge task for the South Africans chasing.

Employing a somewhat experimental batting order, Australia opened with all rounder James Hopes and the experienced Damien Martyn. After safely negotiating an excellent first over from Pollock where the ball moved both ways in the air, Martyn set himself a task of setting a competitive total.

While Hopes was content to keep turning the strike over, Martyn opened up with some excellent shots to the boundary, including a massive six straight down the ground.

Hopes eventually fell attempting to guide the ball through the third man region to Pollock, but this only brought in-form Australian captain in to bat. Ponting began slowly, even letting a ball go through to the ?keeper but was soon in the thick of things, hitting a beautifully timed six through midwicket and some exquisite drives all around the park.

He could not carry on though, and departed with a quickfire 27 off 18 balls. This brought the always dangerous Andrew Symonds to the crease, and he lived up to his reputation, gorging on the South African attack to finish unbeaten on 54 off only 26 balls.

At the other end, Martyn continued his display of crisp hitting, timing the ball wonderfully around the ground. Just short of that elusive three-figure mark, Martyn fell for 96 in the penultimate over. However he and Symonds had done enough to ensure South Africa would have to play out of their skins to chase the 210 runs set for victory.

The South African chase started badly, with the openers Boeta Dippenaar and captain Graeme Smith unable to rotate the strike. Smith did his best to hit through the covers but his blade met air on numerous occasions as he struggled to cope with the swinging ball from Bracken.

Dippenaar fell without unduly troubling the scores, making a solitary run off 5 precious deliveries. When Gibbs fell flicking the ball to square-leg two balls later, South Africa were in deep trouble and things didn?t improve. Mark Boucher was sent up the order to get things moving but he also struggled to time the ball, and with the departure of Smith, Pollock was sent up to perform the job Boucher failed to do.

For a brief while, it seemed as if Boucher and Pollock might be able to launch an offensive to challenge the target, but they could not sustain their assault, Boucher falling for 29. It was then up to Kallis, a batsmen known for determination and attrition rather than demolishing bowling attacks but he looked the most comfortable of all the batsmen.

He and Pollock added 36 in 3 overs but again could not sustain the effort and fell in the same over – Pollock holing out to an excellent catch from Lewis at deep midwicket and Kallis to a brilliant direct hit run out from Ricky Ponting.

With the fall of Pollock and Kallis, almost all hope was lost and while Rudolph and Hall did their best, all they could do was get singles which weren?t enough. Eventually South Africa was dismissed for 114 in only 18.3 overs, and finished 95 runs short while Damien Martyn deservedly won the Man of the Match award.

With a huge crowd watching on, the extra-shortened form of the game surely has a bright future in Australia. Both sides fielded several rookies and all showed potential at the top level.

For Australia, Lewis and Clark bowled and fielded well while Bracken bowled beautifully, swinging the ball both ways and not giving an inch and James Hopes showed why he has been selected for the upcoming VB Series.

For South Africa, Garnett Kruger emerged with the best bowling figures for his team while Zondeki bowled with pace and fire. Although the margin of victory was decisive, Twenty20 cricket is primarily about entertainment and the crowed was certainly entertained in a positive prelude for the VB Series triangular tournament.

Australia – 209/3
Martyn 96, Symonds 54*
Pollock 1/34

South Africa – 114
Boucher 29, Pollock 24
Bracken 2/9, Lewis 2/18

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