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Ponting top-scores to lift Australia to 254-6

Written by: Staff
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PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, March 5 (Reuters) Australian captain Ricky Ponting returned to action and top-scored with 62 for his team in a score of 254 for six against South Africa in the third one-day international today.

Ponting was not able to play in the first two matches of the series, which Australia lost, the most recent by a massive 196-run margin.

The skipper returned with a fluent 82-ball innings that took the visitors to a competitive if not daunting total on the small ground.

Damien Martyn scored 51 off 69 balls, during which he passed 5,000 ODI runs in his 198th match, to see Australia through to the last five overs after Ponting was fooled by the length of a Shaun Pollock delivery and skied a pull to long-on.

Australia were 170 for two after 40 overs, but South Africa cannot seem to settle on their late bowling combinations and Australia added 84 runs in the last 10 overs. Michael Hussey scored 22 off 10 balls and passed 1,000 runs in his 27th innings.

Victory for South Africa would clinch the five-match series with two games to play.

Pollock, who had taken three for 32 in 17 overs in the first two matches, took another two wickets today, including that of a charging Adam Gilchrist, caught behind for 25.

Fellow opener Simon Katich scored 49 off 80 balls before he was run out in a freakish piece of fielding by AB de Villiers, who threw down the stumps at the bowler's end while tumbling head-over-heels.

REUTERS SC RK2036

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