THEY made it hard for themselves, but Australia are back on top of the ODI world rankings after beating South Africa by two wickets in the final ODI at the SCG, wrapping up the series 4-1. Australia chased down a revised total of 275 off 48 overs after a rain interrupted game, with Aaron Finch (76) and Shane Watson (82) setting up the victory. But the match came down to a nervy final over after Australia’s lower order lost their way, only to be rescued by James Faulkner.
Australia’s confidence may have suffered a knock after losing to Pakistan, but a comprehensive series win over South Africa, no matter the format, couldn’t have come at a better time – especially for Watson.
After a lengthy spell on the treatment table, the 33-year-old notched his first ODI half-century in over a year. Not only is he now a certainty to get his place back in the Test team – and is likely to be given the troublesome No.3 spot – but he should be pencilled into Australia’s World Cup squad too.
And he’s not the only one. Pat Cummins’ personal goal of playing in next year’s World Cup is right on track after the tearaway quick claimed three wickets. While the rest of Australia’s bowlers struggled to contain the visitors, Cummins, playing his first ODI at his home ground, was the one who made the crucial break-throughs. It’s not just the number of wickets he took in his two games against South Africa – it’s the players who he dismissed. In Melbourne he knocked over Hashim Amla and ended AB de Villiers’ sublime innings of 91…see more