South Africa win 4th ODI, clinch series 3-1

The South Africans crushed the Aussies by eight wickets in what turned out to be a lopsided floodlit contest to take 3-1 lead in the five-match series.

updated: January 27, 2009 18:38 IST
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South Africa capped a dream tour of Australia by winning the ODI series on Monday in addition to the Test series earlier but the hosts still retained their top spot in both forms of the game despite unmistakable signs that they are on the downslide.

The South Africans crushed the Aussies by eight wickets in what turned out to be a lopsided floodlit contest to take an invincible 3-1 lead in the five-match series.

Opting to bat first, Australia put up yet another sordid batting display and folded up for 222 in 48 overs with only Ricky Ponting (63), James Hopes (42) and Cameron White (30) salvaging some individual reputation with the bat.

South Africa's pace colleagues Makhaya Ntini (3/52) and Dale Steyn (3/49) did an excellent job with the new ball wrecking Australia's top and middle order.

Chasing 223, South Africa needed 38.1 overs to overwhelm the target with Hashim Amla (80 not out), AB de Villiers (82 not out) and Herschelle Gibbs (36) starring in the chase.

Australia remained the number one team in both forms of the game followed closely by South Africa and India, both of whom have beaten the Kangaroos in Test series in recent months.

In One-dayers, Australia led the table with 126 points, followed by South Africa (123) and India (119). Australia had 126 rating points in the longer version of the game with South Africa (121) and India (118) in the second and third position respectively.

With South Africa having taken an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series, the last match scheduled in Perth on Friday will be of only academic interest.

The Proteas were off to a flying start with Gibbs looking in ominous form. The right-hander went after Ben Hilfenhaus and hit the bowler for two boundaries in his first over. Hilfenhaus did manage to send him back in the 10th over but not before Gibbs had blasted a 29-ball 38.

Next man in Jacques Kallis hit three quick boundaries before Hopes removed him after a 12-ball 13 and Australia didn't get another occasion to celebrate.

Amla and de Villiers stitched together an unseparated 144 runs for the third wicket in 25.5 overs to seal the matter. Amla's crucial unbeaten 80 came off 103 balls with seven fours in it. de Villiers was the more aggressive of the duo and his unbeaten 82 came off 85 balls with six fours and a flat-batted six off David Hussey which also brought up his fifty.

Earlier, Ponting's decision to bat first boomeranged and Australia lost both its openers Shaun Marsh (13) and David Warner (1) inside three overs when the team score was 17. Australia expected another blitzkrieg from Warner but the youngster perished as early as in the second over, chipping Stey to Morne Morkel at mid-on.

Marsh opened with three boundaries off Steyn before falling to Ntini, slicing it to Morkel, this time at third man.

Ponting and Michael Hussey (28) embarked on the bail-out act and added 93 runs for the third wicket as things started looking bright for the hosts.

South Africa captain Johan Botha (2/28) broke the stand to trigger a batting collapse and Australia lost Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin (3), Ponting and David Hussey (24) in quick successions to slump to 151 for six.

White and Hopes did try their best and added 37 runs but it was too late and too little.

Ponting's 70-ball 63 was the lone Australian resistance in the face of South Africa's spirited attack and it included nine hits to the fence.

Ab de Villiers was chosen Man of the Match for his ste