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Captains land verbal blows after Australia level series

Written by: Staff

DURBAN, South Africa, Mar 11 (Reuters) Rival captains Graeme Smith and Ricky Ponting traded verbal blows after Australia clinched a thrilling one-wicket win over South Africa in the fourth one-dayer.

The world champions, chasing 247 in 50 overs to win the day-night match, won with five balls to spare to level the series at 2-2. The fifth and final game is in Johannesburg tomorrow.

''It shows how close the teams really are and it sets up a massive decider at the Wanderers,'' home skipper Smith told a news conference.

''I thought they (Australia) were the team that were chokers, if that's the word, at the back end (of matches).'' Ponting reacted strongly to the remarks.

''He said that, did he?'', the Australia captain asked reporters after being told of Smith's opinion. ''We won the game, maybe they should look at their own performance.

''That will give us ammunition for tomorrow. They can say what they like, they can keep talking it up and losing games.'' Opener Boeta Dippenaar yesterday made his fourth century in one-dayers but Smith said South Africa needed a bigger total.

BACK STRAIN ''We did well to get to 246 for nine but 260 would have been a great total and that's what we were looking for,'' he said.

All rounder Shaun Pollock could only bowl five of his 10 overs after he suffered a back strain during his 53 not out with the bat.

''It is a concern, it was a huge loss,'' Smith said of Pollock's absence from his attack. ''It meant myself and (Justin) Kemp had to bowl when we didn't want to.'' Australia took 19 runs off Smith's off-spinners in the 38th over.

Ponting, however, was less than pleased with his batsmen.

''To be one for 87 and then four for 101 is not good enough,'' he said. ''We were lucky to get across the finish line, we played some ordinary shots.

''Our decision making needs to be better if we want to win tomorrow.'' Andrew Symonds top-scored for Australia with 76.

''He wanted to bat through and win the game so he's pretty disappointed but without him we wouldn't have done it,'' said Ponting.

Reuters PG VP0420

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