Australia back in the groove

Australia got back in the winner's circle with a 24-run win over South Africa at Port Elizabeth on Sunday.

Ricky Ponting's return provided Australia with more assurance as it scored 254-6.

All the Australians made starts with Adam Gilchrist scoring 25 before being caught behind off a backfoot slash at a ball from Shaun Pollock while Simon Katich was the victim of a fine through by AB de Villiers' pick-up and throw to be run out for 49.

Ponting, despite showing signs of time away from the crease, scored 62 while seeing the side to 173-3 before he was caught at deep mid-wicket from Pollock's bowling.

Damien Martyn scored 51 before he was out at 214 from Makhaya Ntini's bowling.

As the middle-order went on a late overs assault Mike Hussey hit 22 and Michael Clarke was run out for 25. Pollock took 2-45 while left-arm spinner Robin Peterson bowled 10 overs for 39 runs.

South Africa started in a rush but lost captain Graeme Smith for 10 in the third over and there was a steady stream of wickets until in the 21st over it was 69-5.

However, de Villiers and Pollock mounted a fine sixth-wicket assault to add 119 runs in 22 overs to keep South Africa right in the hunt.

It took Shane Watson and Michael Clarke to apply the pressure with some timely bowling which resulted in Watson bowling Pollock for 69 and then four runs later de Villiers fell after Brad Hogg took a fine catch, running backwards at long-on and then diving full length to grasp the chance. De Villiers scored 68.

Brett Lee was brought back into the action and quickly killed off any South African hopes of a revival by claiming both Andrew Hall and Peterson in the 45th over. Roger Telemachus hit out to score 29 off 17 but was trapped leg before wicket by Nathan Bracken for Australia to claim the win that kept the series alive.

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