The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Australia stops slide, beats South Africa by 62 runs in ODI triangular series

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HARARE, Zimbabwe - Australia beat South Africa by 62 runs in their triangular series one-day international on Tuesday as Mitchell Marsh served up a match-winning display with bat and ball.

The big victory stopped Australia's mini-slump of two straight losses and put it into Saturday's final of the three-team tournament at Harare Sports Club. Zimbabwe needs to beat South Africa by a large margin on Thursday to prevent an Australia-South Africa decider.

Allrounder Marsh changed the game with the bat, hitting 86 from only 51 balls with seven sixes to lift Australia to 282-7, batting first. He then took two wickets and the game-ending catch as South Africa fell to 220 all out, despite 126 by Faf du Plessis.

Du Plessis fought a lone battle in the chase with the next highest South African score 24 by No. 7 Ryan McLaren. Du Plessis might have threatened the total but stood on his own stumps in the 42nd over to be out hit wicket, a rare form of dismissal and a bitter disappointment for Du Plessis after his 126 off 109 balls with eight fours and six sixes.

It wasn't enough to overshadow Marsh and the Australians.

Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc all took two wickets each as Australia claimed a bonus-point win to reach the final, an immediate turnaround after losing to Zimbabwe for the first time in 31 years over the weekend. That Zimbabwe loss took Australia sliding from No. 1 in the ODI rankings to No. 4, but it roared back with a convincing win.

Without captain Michael Clarke, who has returned home with injury, Australia was put in to bat by the unbeaten South African team.

Left-hander Phil Hughes struck 85 from 92 balls at the top of the innings but with the Australian batting effort meandering Marsh made an explosive impact from No. 6. He hit five fours and seven sixes, including three maximums in a row down the ground off fast bowler Dale Steyn and two off the last over. Australia plundered 101 off its last 10 overs.

Spinner Aaron Phangiso took 2-39 for the best return among South Africa's bowlers. Steyn had 1-64 in nine overs but took some punishment from Marsh in the 47th over: Marsh hit Steyn's first ball over long-off, the second over wide long-on and onto the roof of the team dressing rooms, and the third disappeared straight over Steyn's head, clattering into the sightscreen.

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