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Smith century seals series for Australia

Wade plays his part in match-turning sixth-wicket stand as hosts take winning 3-1 lead despite de Villiers heroics

Smith century seals series for Australia - Cricket News
Steve Smith's century helped Australia chase down a 268-run target with three wickets in hand.
A wonderful innings under pressure from Steve Smith, his stand with Matthew Wade that rescued Australia from a tricky position, and a cameo from James Faulkner ensured Australia pulled off its chase of 268 to seal the five-match One-Day International series against South Africa with one game left to play.
The action in the series had shifted to Melbourne Cricket Ground for the fourth ODI on Friday (November 21), and South Africa put up 267 for 8 on the back of another wonderful hand, this time of 91, from AB de Villiers, the captain . It looked a good score as Australia huffed and puffed to 98 for 5. But once Smith was done with his heroics, Australia ran out victors by three wickets with six balls to spare.
The Australian chase didn’t start on the best note, with Kyle Abbott trapping David Warner lbw. Ryan McLaren and Wayne Parnell then sent back Shane Watson and Aaron Finch respectively to leave Australia on 48 for 3 in the 14thover.
Smith had just about started to settle down when he lost George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell as well, both batsmen falling to Dale Steyn.
But from that point to the 45th over, there was no joy for South Africa. Smith and Wade put on 121 to bring the match back on an even keel. The bowling wasn’t poor, but there were lapses on the field that helped the Australians along and they took control.
Smith and Wade matched each other stroke for stroke for the best part of their association and it eventually took a great catch from McLaren at long-leg – running forward before putting in the dive – to a miscued hook from Wade off a Parnell bouncer for South Africa to come back into the game. Wade’s 52 had taken 59 balls and included four fours and a six.
Smith was on 93 then and Australia were still 48 short with 5.4 overs left. Smith duly completed his century, and found in Faulkner the perfect man for the final charge. In the 47th over bowled by Steyn, Faulkner whacked one over midwicket and one over the bowler to swing the equation in Australia’s favour. A full toss from Abbott was clubbed over midwicket and a short one in the same general direction for two fours in the next over and, by the time Robin Peterson came in to bowl the penultimate over, it was all but over.

Smith fell trying to slog-sweep Peterson after scoring 104 and with the scores level, but Pat Cummins got the winning run when his slog flew to midwicket, where David Miller took it on the bounce.
Earlier, South Africa looked good for a big total as long as de Villiers and Miller were in the middle, but lost its way to end on a moderate total.
Mitchell Starc and Nathan Coulter-Nile kept them quiet at the start, Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla struggling to get the scoreboard moving. Coulter-Nile got the breakthrough, in the sixth over when Amla mistimed a pull to Cummins at short midwicket. Unfortunately for Coulter-Nile and Australia though, the bowler pulled his hamstring after bowling the last ball of the over and it was revealed soon after that he would play no further part in the game.
Maxwell, in the playing XI for Mitchell Marsh, got the next wicket when he found de Kock’s leading edge and collected a simple return catch, and Faf du Plessis was the next to go when Cummins forced an edge.
The recovery was scripted by de Villiers and Miller, who collaborated for a 122-run fourth-wicket stand. De Villiers was his usual inventive self, stroking six boundaries in his 88-ball 91, while Miller scored his 45 runs from 61 deliveries before becoming the fourth man out – caught by Smith at deep cover after mis-hitting a Faulkner slower delivery.
At that stage, with the total 199 for 4 after 37 overs, the game was in the balance, especially with de Villiers going strong on 77. But once Cummins tricked de Villiers with a slower one – the batsman advanced down the track and scooped it to deep midwicket – the tide turned in Australia’s favour.
There was the occasional big hit but not as many as South Africa would have wanted, and Cummins wrapped things up with a super last over in which only two runs were scored off the bat to go with a bye and two leg-byes.

Please click here to see the full scorecard of Australia v South Africa from Melbourne.

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