If there is any venue outside Australia where David Warner should feel at home it is the ground in Basseterre on the island of St Kitts. It is tailor-made for him with its short boundaries and hard surface. It is even named Warner Park. In his first international match at his namesake venue, Warner struck his sixth ODI hundred, and first outside Australia, to set up a 36-run victory over South Africa.
Australia thus became the first team to win two games in this tri-series, which has now moved on from the slow, spinning surfaces of Guyana. Steven Smith had no hesitation in choosing to bat first and Warner’s 109 was the dominant contribution of the match, setting Australia on the path to 288 for 6.
South Africa’s bowlers seemed to have done well to keep Australia under 300, but those same bowlers also formed a long tail that was unable to offer much resistance after Australia’s attack got through the middle order. Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa and Josh Hazlewood picked up three wickets each and the lower order collapsed, the last seven wickets falling for 42 runs.
For a while, South Africa looked to be cruising in their chase. They had lost Quinton de Kock early, when he pulled Hazlewood to deep square leg for 19, but Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis set about building a typically solid platform that should have been adequate. They
made it to 140 for 1 in the 26th over before Amla (60) was sharply taken by Smith at cover off Hazlewood.
Life became tougher for the South African batsmen as Australia’s fast men found some reverse swing, which helped Starc get rid of du Plessis, who sliced to backward point for 63. AB de Villiers and JP Duminy then had the job of steering the rest of the innings, but de Villiers was also done by reverse swing when Hazlewood tailed one in to bowl him for 39.
The loss of Duminy, through a somewhat lax sweep to deep midwicket off Zampa for 41, precipitated the lower-order collapse. Zampa had Farhaan Behardien lbw for 4 and had Wayne Parnell caught at long-on for 3, leaving too much work for the tail. Kyle Abbott had already been bowled, done by Starc’s reverse swing, before Aaron Phangiso also fell to Starc and Imran Tahir was run out to end the game.
South Africa’s seamers had found almost no reverse earlier in the day. Like Australia, who dropped Nathan Lyon and Glenn Maxwell, South Africa strengthened their pace group at the expense of their spin attack, and while Abbott and Parnell especially were tight enough, they couldn’t manage to string enough wickets together, even after ending Warner’s innings.
Warner’s previous five one-day international hundreds had all come in Australia, where the quick and bouncy pitches tend to suit his preference for the ball coming on to the bat. He started this one with two boundaries in the first over of the game and in all struck 11 fours and two sixes, and he was typically harsh on any width offered by the quicks.
His opening partner, Aaron Finch, found no momentum and was bowled for 13 off 28 when he missed an attempted sweep off an Imran Tahir straight ball. Warner and Usman Khawaja put on 136 for the second wicket and a total well in excess of 300 looked like a strong possibility.
Warner brought up his hundred from his 109th delivery when he cut a single off Abbott, and two deliveries later Khawaja raised his half-century from his 58th ball, but neither man was to go on much further. The second drinks break came at just the right time for South Africa, as Warner pulled Parnell to midwicket off the first ball after the resumption.
Khawaja had swept the spinners effectively but the shot eventually brought his downfall on 59 when he top-edged off Phangiso and skied a catch that was taken by Amla from short fine leg. George Bailey was lbw to Tahir for 11 and Mitchell Marsh holed out deep midwicket for 10 off an Abbott full toss, and South Africa’s fightback was looking strong.
However, Smith managed to steer the Australians into the high 200s with a half-century at better than a run-a-ball, with some assistance from Matthew Wade, who scored 24 off 14 balls. Smith ended up unbeaten on 52 from 49 deliveries, and Australia had enough to hold off South Africa. (Cricinfo)