Durban, Oct 27: Australia needs to play with freedom and “a real positive attitude” in the series-deciding one-day international against South Africa in Durban, batsman Mike Hussey said on Wednesday.
Australia has to win at Kingsmead on Friday for its first ODI series victory in South Africa since 2002, but even in a game he compared to “a grand final,” the top-ranked Australian team should be typically attack-minded, Hussey said.
“We need to look at what we need to improve on, work on that the next few days in practice and come in with a real positive attitude in the last game,” he said. “We've just got to make sure we play with our freedom because that's when we play our best cricket.”
As predicted, two of cricket's most competitive teams will go down to the wire in a shortened, three-match ODI series after Australia dominated the opener in Centurion and South Africa hit back with a strong win in Port Elizabeth over the weekend—a result the Aussies wouldn't dwell on, Hussey said.
Australia may have lost its last two 50-over series in South Africa—in 2006 and 2009 -- but it won at Durban in both those contests for a 3-0 record in its last three matchups with the Proteas at the east coast venue.
The Australian team enjoyed playing at Kingsmead, Hussey said, with its pace and bounce making it similar to many tracks back home.
Protecting their No. 1 ODI ranking was also important for the Aussies, who have slipped down the test table.
“We knew coming over to South Africa, it's always a very tough series. We enjoy that sort of challenge,” Hussey said. “But we've had a lot of pride for that number one position in the world and that is something that (new captain) Michael Clarke continuously talks to us about and he says to us often: ‘We're the number one team in the world for a reason and we've got to keep showing the world out there why.'
“He keeps challenging us in that way and the guys are very motivated for this last game.”
Australia was also boosted for the series-decider with Shane Watson batting freely in the nets in Durban on Wednesday after he struggled with a hip injury ahead of the one-dayers and then back spasms in the last game in Port Elizabeth.
Batsman Shaun Marsh was also expected to return from a shoulder injury for the finale, which should finally separate the teams after a drawn Twenty20 series.
Kingsmead is a sellout and the result could give the winner significant momentum ahead of a two-match test series next month—if the rain forecast for Friday doesn't intervene.
“The intensity at training has probably been as high as I can remember in any Australian team,” Hussey said. “I don't think there's much of a difference (between the teams). It's 1-1 and sort of a true reflection of where the series is at the moment.”