Morne Morkel wreaked havoc and together with AB de Villiers, wrecked Australia’s chances of taking a 2-0 series lead in the second ODI at the WACA. Morkel’s career-best 5 for 21 helped to skittle Australia for 154, a total that was barely half of what they made in the first game on Friday and showed how fortunate they were that South Africa dropped so many chances on that occasion. A brisk 48 from 41 scored by de Villiers confirmed the result.
The chase was not entirely straightforward for South Africa, who were 2 for 21 after losing both openers early, and wobbled towards the end as Josh Hazlewood completed his first five-wicket haul in ODI cricket. But Hazlewood’s efforts were offset by a leaky display from Nathan Coulter-Nile, whose six overs cost 54, and South Africa reached their target with three wickets in hand and 22.2 overs remaining.
The winning runs came with a four struck down the ground by Dale Steyn off Hazlewood, who finished with 5 for 31, and was twice on a hat-trick during the South Africa innings. His bounce and pace caused some awkward moments for the South Africans, just as Morkel had done for the Australia batsmen, and it would not be surprising to find him part of Australia’s Test squad to take on India this summer.
He picked up the first wicket when Quinton de Kock was done by extra bounce and cut hard to a leaping Shane Watson at slip, and Mitchell Johnson then had Hashim Amla caught behind for 10. But a quick 30 off 25 balls from Rilee Rossouw put South Africa back on track before he was taken at slip by Steven Smith off Glenn Maxwell.
But de Villiers was the rock that South Africa required, playing his shots despite the ample time left in the match. Hazlewood’s bouncer accounted for Faf du Plessis, who was caught behind hooking for 19, and next ball Farhaan Behardien was taken at gully, but David Miller survived the first of the hat-trick balls. Miller and de Villiers pushed the score along and brought the target in sight.
Hazlewood again had two from two when de Villiers was caught behind last ball of an over and in the first ball of Hazlewood’s next, Vernon Philander lobbed a catch up to gully. But Coulter-Nile had leaked 12 runs in the over in between, and the result by then was a formality, with Miller remaining unbeaten on 22 and Steyn on 4.
It was not the outcome captain George Bailey had envisaged when he won the toss and chose to bat, hoping for a repeat of the first game, when Australia had posted 300. In that game the Australians had been in early trouble before Bailey and Matthew Wade rebuilt; this time early wickets again tumbled but the rebuilding process was interrupted by Philander and Morkel, and Australia were dismissed in the 42nd over.
Mitchell Marsh was the last man out, caught at short fine leg for 67 having provided some lusty blows late in the innings to push the total past 150, but he was the only batsman to pass 25, and he was part of the only two vaguely decent partnerships of the innings, with Bailey and Wade. Morkel got rid of David Warner in the first over and the wickets just kept tumbling as he found the right length to challenge the Australians on the WACA surface.
Warner was caught down the leg side off the glove for a duck, and Morkel followed up with Steven Smith, who top-edged a pull to mid-on for 10. Between those wickets, Steyn had chipped in by having Aaron Finch caught by Morkel at mid-on for 8 and Farhaan Behardien had provided a major bonus by nipping a ball back in and trapping Shane Watson lbw for 11.
The loss of Smith left Australia in big trouble at 4 for 34 and it took a Bailey-Marsh partnership to begin the rebuilding. They put on 58 for the fifth wicket but Bailey did not encounter as much good fortune as he had in the first game when he was dropped four times; on this occasion, his pull was snapped up by du Plessis at mid-on off the bowling of Philander, and he was out for 25.
A 33-run stand between Marsh and Wade followed but Wade was caught down leg side off Morkel in a similar manner to Warner. Both men were initially given not out before South Africa reviewed the calls. In Wade’s case, there was a Hot Spot mark on the glove but the question for third umpire Nigel Llong was whether his hand had come off the bat by the time the ball brushed the glove; he was satisfied it had not, and Wade was gone for 19.
From there, things quickly deteriorated for Australia. Morkel added another wicket in the same over when Maxwell played on for a duck, and he picked up his fifth wicket when Johnson edged behind for 3. Steyn had Coulter-Nile caught at mid-on for 2 and after a couple of sixes from Marsh, the final wicket fell with the score on 154.
The teams will now head to Canberra with the series tied at 1-1, and the WACA will wait for its next international, a one-day game between England and India on January 30, in a summer when it has been denied the chance to host Test cricket.