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Last Updated: Friday, 24 February 2006, 21:30 GMT
Inspired SA snatch Twenty20 win
Twenty20 international, Johannesburg:
South Africa 201-4 (20 overs) beat Australia 199-7 (20 overs) by two runs

Graeme Smith
Smith's relief was palpable as he reached his half-century
Graeme Smith returned to form with an unbeaten 89 but South Africa only just held on to beat Australia by two runs in the Twenty20 international.

Smith also took two outstanding catches and Andrew Hall took 3-22 as Australia were kept to 199-7 in Johannesburg.

After a two-hour rain delay, Smith rewarded a crowd of 32,000 in a stand of 111 with Herschelle Gibbs (56).

But Brad Hogg (41) and Brett Lee (43no) almost snatched the game back with a seventh-wicket partnership of 57.

The teams combined to set a new Twenty20 international record for sixes scored, with South Africa contributing seven and Australia nine, including one by Lee off the last ball.

But the home side showed there was more to the shortest form of the game than hitting maximums.

Today will go a long way for me confidence-wise... I've been working hard all week on certain things
Graeme Smith

South Africa had returned from Australia with their tails between their legs just two weeks ago, having lost the Test series 2-0 and failed to reach the finals of the one-day series.

Opener Smith's tour was especially pitiful as he failed to pass 40 in any form of the game.

Inspired by his raucous home town crowd, though, he looked a reformed player, showing palpable relief as he reached his half-century and hitting 11 fours in all in a 58-ball stay.

Australia could not find a similar solid presence through the order, and suffered the consequences.

Adam Gilchrist and captain Ricky Ponting could both feel unlucky to be given out lbw to Hall in the first four overs.

Fans hold insulting signs in front of Aussies kipper Ponting
Ponting's men faced a raucous Johannesburg crowd

But Simon Katich and Michael Clarke both squandered good starts.

Katich provided Roger Telemachus with his first international wicket in four years when he got a leading edge to Smith at mid-on for 39.

And Clarke was stumped for 37 by stand-in keeper AB de Villiers, trying to hoist left-armer Robin Petersen over midwicket.

When Lee joined Hogg, 78 runs were needed off the remaining 42 balls and Hogg should have gone next ball, when umpire Karl Hurter missed an edge behind off Hall.

The duo dealt with South Africa's back-up bowlers aggressively in a 34-ball stay together until Smith's leap at mid-on left Australia fighting a losing cause.

A new-look South Africa side, picked mainly on domestic 20-over form, saw Smith joined by Loots Bosman to open the innings under floodlights.

The Free State batsman took 18 wild deliveries over his 23 before he lost his middle stump swiping at Mick Lewis.

Australia were made to pay before Lewis took his second wicket, though, and the seamer himself was to blame when he dropped Gibbs at long off when he was on 41.

Gibbs had time for two sixes in four balls off Brad Hogg (whose two overs dispatched cost 38 in all) before Lewis made amends in the next over, trapping him lbw.

Shaun Pollock and Johan van der Wath came and went swinging.

But Smith remained, hitting the final ball of the innings for a boundary to take the score over 200 - just enough.




SEE ALSO
Australia in South Africa 2006
31 Dec 05 |  Future tour dates


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