Australia registered its first ODI victory in 287 days as they beat South Africa by 7 runs in a thrilling encounter at the Adelaide Oval to level the three-match series 1-1.
Chasing 232 for victory, the Proteas rode on David Miller’s half-century and captain Faf du Plessis’ patient knock to come close to the target but eventually fell short and were restricted to 224 for 9 in 50 overs.
Miller top-scored with 51 runs while du Plessis made 47 but it was the collective failure of the rest of the batsmen which proved to be the downfall for South Africa in the 2nd ODI.
For the Aussies, all-rounder Marcus Stoinis was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3 for 35 while paceman Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood caused the early damage, picking up 2 wickets each. Pat Cummins also managed to grab a wicket.
The win helped Australia end its 7-match losing streak, which was their longest in one-day international cricket. South Africa had won the first match of the series by 6 wickets at Perth earlier this week.
The South Africans slipped to 68 for 4 inside 15 overs before Miller and du Plessis fought back.
They put the chase on pace with a game-high 74-run partnership before du Plessis hit his stumps from Cummins’ bowling. The South Africa captain’s departure started a slide of 60 for 5.
“I thought we defended our total well, and it keeps the series alive,” man-of-the-match Finch said. “We needed our pacers to come through. We knew we had to bowl them out to win, we just had to keep rolling the dice.”
Du Plessis said Australia put continuous pressure on his side.
“We lost wickets up front, we needed one more batter to come up. We need to refocus for Sunday,” du Plessis said.
Finch’s side will now head to Sunday’s decider in Hobart buoyed by Australia’s first win in the short format since January and having delivered some badly needed cheer for the struggling cricket nation.
Earlier, the Proteas produced yet another impressive performance with the ball as they bowled Australia out for 231 in 48.3 overs.
The Australians were all out in 48.3 overs – the seventh time in their past eight one-day internationals they have failed to bat out their allotted overs.
Wicket-keeper Alex Carey top-scored for the hosts with 47 runs while Chris Lynn (44) and Finch (41) made useful contributions but the rest managed a combined total of 88 runs.
Kagiso Rabada ran through the Aussie batting lineup picking up 4 wickets for 54 runs while Dwaine Pretorious got three wickets for 32 runs. Dale Steyn grabbed two wickets and Lungi Ngidi managed one.
Brief scores: Australia (231) beat South Africa (224/9) by 7 runs to level 3-match series 1-1. Miller (51), Stoinis (3/35), Hazlewood (2/42).