Gilchrist Assault sets up Win

Australia ensured South Africa and Sri Lanka would have to fight it out for a birth in the VB Series final after demolishing the Proteas to the tune of 57 runs at the SCG tonight.

The home side’s victory was set up by an outstanding batting effort earlier in the day. Catapulted to an exceptional start by the vice captain Adam Gilchrist, who blazed 88 off only 66 balls, the Australians set about posting their highest score against South Africa in a ODI. Gilchrist was well supported by his skipper, Ricky Ponting, who followed Gilchrist’s lead in dispatching the hapless South African attack to all areas of the SCG. Monde Zondeki was subbed out of the attack after leaking 42 runs from only four overs, Charl Langeveldt was brought in to try and ease the pain. However even the more experienced Langeveldt still got bludgeoned around the ground by the Australian batsmen who could do no wrong.

Gilchrist eventually fell after sending a pull-shot skyward into the safe gloves of South African keeper Mark Boucher. By this stage the run-rate was a comfortable eight an over, big hitting Andrew Symonds was promoted up the order to continue the run-fest, however he sent an arm-ball from Graeme Smith to mid-off and departed for a disappointing seven.

Ricky Ponting continued his hitting, and made Damien Martyn’s 55 ball half-century look pedestrian. Ponting?s departure signalled the entrance of in form Mike Hussey, who took little time to settle in, hitting 2 consecutive boundaries early in his innings. Hussey once again provided the late cameo to finish the innings off, and narrowly missed out on his half century after compiling a sparkling 47 from 33 balls. Fellow West Australian, Damien Martyn blitzed a quick 79 before being runout on the final ball of the innings attempting a second run. A record breaking innings was closed at 344 for the loss of six wickets – the second highest ODI total at the SCG and the highest total ever conceded by South Africa.

A mammoth effort was required from the Proteas if they were to even come close to the target set. That task became even greater after Graeme Smith continued his poor run of form and tickled one down leg side in the 3rd over, to which Adam Gilchrist took a one handed diving catch off the bowling of Brett Lee.

Opening batsman Boeta Dippenaar combined with Herschelle Gibbs for a 45 run partnership, but fell to Stuart Clark in an attempt to keep track with the required run-rate. He sent a short ball towards the deep square leg boundary with Brad Hogg running around on the boundary and Michael Hussey running back from the fielding restriction circle, a collision was looking the favourite option. Luckily Hussey called Hogg out and he ran back with the flight to take a superbly balanced catch. In the need for quick runs this brought in form wicketkeeper/batsman Mark Boucher to the crease. He combined with Gibbs for a half century stand however when Gibbs fell for 46 the required rate was getting out of control.

Hard hitting Justin Kemp came to the crease, but failed to live up to his name after only scoring 3 boundaries in his effort of 28. Boucher kept pushing the ball around down the other end, and managed to clear the ropes twice in a row, however got carried away in the moment and was caught on the boundary off the bowling of Andrew Symonds. By this time the run-chase was all but over and crowds were heading for the exits. For the crowd that remained Johan van der Wath provided some late entertainment, taking to Nathan Bracken and Stuart Clark, clouting a massive four sixes in his exciting knock of 37 from 16 balls. However despite scoring their highest score for the series, the Proteas never looked to be in the game only managing 287 for the loss of 6 wickets from their 50 overs.

Australia will gain some major psychological advantages after the win over South Africa heading into the finals. While South Africa meets Sri Lanka on Tuesday at Bellerive Oval in a must win game for both teams to ensure a birth in the VB Series final.

Australia 344-6
Adam Gilchrist 88, Damien Martyn 79, Ricky Ponting 72, Mike Hussey 47
Charl Langeveldt 1/49

South Africa 287-6
Mark Boucher 76, Herschelle Gibbs 46
Andrew Symonds 2/42, Brett Lee 1/31

Australia won by 57 runs.

Cricket Web Player of the Match
Adam Gilchrist (88 from 66)

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