Australia registered a convincing 62-run victory against South Africa in the fifth match of the one-day international tri-series in Harare on Tuesday.
Australia won with a bonus point and as a result have booked a place for themselves in the final. South Africa will be their opponents in the summit lash. On Tuesday, the Aussies basically needed to win the game to put Zimbabwe out of contention for a spot in the final. They did that in some style with all-rounder Mitchell Marsh leading the charge.
Batting first, Australia racked up 282, propelled by Marsh's furious 86 off only 51 deliveries. Defending their score of 282, the Aussies bowled the South Africans out for just 220. Marsh once again played a key role as he took the important wickets of opener Hashim Amla and middle order batsman JP Duminy. For South Africa, Faf du Plessis played a magnificent knock of 126, but it was all in vain.
Chasing a stiff target of 283 against a buoyant Australian outfit, the Proteas needed a good start. It was the exact opposite that took place. Off-spinner Glenn Maxwell, opening the bowling, removed left-hander Quinton de Kock for just one in the second over. De Kock, who tried to push the Aussies on the back foot early on, top-edged a ball to Steve Smith.
This brought du Plessis to the crease. The South African is in terrific form and he showed it as he immediately hit a four off pacer Mitchell Johnson in the next over. Du Plessis and Amla seemed to be pushing the Proteas along as they reached 36 in the 10th over.
Right then disaster struck as wicket-keeper Brad Haddin pulled off a fantastic catch down the leg side to get rid of Amla off the bowling of medium pacer Kane Richardson.
South Africa skipper AB de Villiers came to the crease. Both he and du Plessis, with a partnership of more than 200 runs, had been instrumental in chasing down over 300 in their previous game against Australia.
On this occasion, there would be no such heroics as offie Nathan Lyon removed de Villiers for just 6. Wickets started to tumble after this. JP Duminy could only make 16 before Marsh had him caught by substitute Ben Cutting. Left-hand batsman David Miller too did not last long as he was castled by Johnson for six.
At the other end, du Plessis was battling away on his own. He did have a little bit of support from all-rounder Ryan McLaren who made 24. McLaren, however, needed to stay on and make more. Amidtst the chaos in the Proteas batting, in the 38th over du Plessis brought his century up with a pull off the bowling of Mitchell Starc.
The run rate, however, was mounting as South Africa now needed 102 runs in just 12 overs. Du Plessis tried his best to keep up with the asking rate but he was unfortunately out hit-wicket off Richardson in the 42nd over. With his wicket, South Africa's hopes of victory vanished as they were bundled out for 220 in the 44th over.
Earlier, the Aussies who needed to make an impact in this match, found a hero in Marsh who hammered the South African attack to all parts of the ground on his way to 86. Pacer Dale Steyn came in for some special treatment as Marsh took him for 21 runs in the 47th over.
Marsh had some very good support from opener Philip Hughes who made a brilliant 85 off 92 balls. He was the aggressor initially as Marsh played carefully. After Hughes got out Marsh saw to it that he stayed till the end as Australia posted what was to be a winning total.