PERTH, Australia: Australia recovered from the setback of Michael Clarke’s early injury and held off a determined counterattack from A.B. de Villiers to win the series-opening limited-overs international against South Africa by 32 runs on Friday.
George Bailey stood in for captain Clarke, who injured his left hamstring, top-scoring with 70 in Australia’s total of 300-8 and then cycling through his bowlers to derail South Africa’s run chase.
Mitchell Johnson (2-38) took early wickets as South Africa struggled to 78-4 before de Villiers (80) and David Miller (65) combined for a 126-run fifth-wicket partnership that put the visitors in control.
Nathan Coulter-Nile (4-48) swung momentum back to Australia with two wickets in three balls, and de Villiers was run out before South Africa was eventually dismissed for 268.
Earlier, George Bailey was dropped four times en route to an innings-salvaging 70 as Australia posted 300-8 after being sent in to bat Friday in the series-opening limited-overs international against South Africa.
Australia started positively, with David Warner (46) and Aaron Finch (35) racing to 94 before both openers were dismissed within three balls from Vernon Philander (4-45).
Australia skipper Michael Clarke scratched around for 11 before he was caught behind, gloving an attempted pull shot off Dale Steyn to give the South African paceman the upper hand in their acrimonious rivalry. Clarke injured his left hamstring in the process and withdrew from the remainder of the match.
The total appeared insufficient after a stop-start innings from Australia, which started cautiously.
Finch had a reprieve on 1 when he successfully challenged an LBW decision.
With communications between on-field and TV umpire broadcast for the first time for TV viewers, Billy Bowden overturned the initial call because the ball was high and straying down legside.
Warner went on the attack in the next over, hitting the first six, and helping Australia pass 50 in the ninth.
Australia clobbered legspinner Imran Tahir for 15 runs in the 14th over but Philander altered the course of the game in the 15th when he dismissed Warner to a low, tumbling outfield catch from Ryan McLaren and had Finch caught behind.
Clarke was next out and, after Bailey was dropped twice on 2 by David Miller off Morne Morkel and by Tahir putting down a regulation caught-and-bowled chance Australia ran out of such luck when Shane Watson was out sweeping Tahir to Morkel at short fine leg, putting the hosts on 130-4.
Bailey steered the middle order out of serious trouble, despite being dropped again on 38 and 47, before he was well caught in the deep by Faf du Plessis to give Steyn (2-62) his second wicket.
Bailey was the stand-in captain for Clarke for the remainder of the match. Regular vice-captain Brad Haddin is missing the series after injuring his shoulder in the 2-0 test series loss to Pakistan last month.
Matthew Wade, Haddin’s replacement as wicketkeeper, was out for 35 late in the innings.