It was as good a start as Graeme Smith could have asked for. After losing every toss against Ricky Ponting over the summer, he finally won one and had no hesitations in batting on a good Newlands track under sunny skies. So far Australia’s tour has been a mirror image of when South Africa visited, and if things stick to sequence Australia will take back the No. 1 tag in one-day cricket. Smith, however, was determined to break the pattern and win the series.
South Africa fielded an unchanged side from Centurion, where they squared the five-match series 1-1. “We don’t need wholesale changes,” was Ponting’s assessment after Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell blew Australia away for 131 in 40.2 overs. And indeed there were no massive modifications, except that Australia brought in Brett Geeves for Ben Laughlin.
Two days ago Ponting blamed himself for Australia’s batting predicament, saying it was about time he scored another ODI century. It’s not just Ponting, but the makeshift opening pair of Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke who will need to provide a platform.
South Africa: 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Herschelle Gibbs, 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Roelof van der Merwe, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Albie Morkel, 9 Johan Botha, 10 Wayne Parnell, 11 Dale Steyn.
Australia: 1 Michael Clarke, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 David Hussey, 6 Callum Ferguson, 7 James Hopes, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Bracken, 10 Brett Geeves, 11 Nathan Hauritz.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo