Proteas go batty

Herschelle Gibbs hit his 21st one-day century as South Africa beat Australia by 61 runs in Port Elizabeth yesterday to seal overall victory in the series.

Herschelle Gibbs hit his 21st one-day century as South Africa beat Australia by 61 runs in Port Elizabeth yesterday to seal overall victory in the series.

Gibbs hammered two sixes and nine fours in his 110 off 116 balls and shared a stand of 136 with AB de Villiers (84).

The home side reached 317-6 but Brad Haddin (78) and Michael Clarke (50) gave Australia a flying start in reply.

Roelof van der Merwe (3-46) halted the charge and Dale Steyn (4-44) swept away the tail as they were all out for 256.

The victory gave South Africa an unassailable 3-1 lead with just one game in the series remaining in Johannesburg on Friday.

And it was another impressive all-round effort by Graeme Smith's men against an Australian side who gave a 50-over debut to 35-year-old seamer Shane Harwood after three appearances in Twenty20 internationals.

Harwood did reasonably well, removing Jacques Kallis for 17 when he was looking well set and having JP Duminy caught off the final ball of the innings to finish with 2-57, but by then the damage had been done.

Australia had started the game well enough, with James Hopes picking up the important early wicket of Smith, who flashed at a wide delivery and was caught behind for 20.

But the departure of Kallis at the end of the 18th over brought Gibbs and De Villiers together and from there, the home side began to seize the initiative.

The 100 partnership came at a run a ball and Gibbs lofted spinners Michael Clarke and Nathan Hauritz into the stands as he closed in on his century.

The pressure told on Australia as Callum Ferguson dropped De Villiers in the deep, the first of three chances which went begging, but Clarke held on to an easy catch at long-on off Nathan Bracken to bring Gibbs' innings to an end.

Albie Morkel was bowled by Mitchell Johnson, who also had De Villiers in successive overs, but Duminy and Mark Boucher (29 not out off 25 balls) saw South Africa beyond 300 by putting on 65 in the final seven overs. - BBC

X