x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Mike Hussey wants Australia to go on offensive against South Africa

The touring side have won one and lost in three-match one-day international series, with the final game to be played on Friday.

Australia need to play with freedom and "a real positive attitude" in the series-deciding one-day international (ODI) against South Africa in Durban, Mike Hussey said on Wednesday.

Australia have to win at Kingsmead on Friday for their 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," the middle-order batsman said.

"We've just got to make sure we play with our freedom because that's when we play our best cricket," the left-hander added.

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 Australians would not dwell on, Hussey said.

The series has swung dramatically, with both teams putting in highly impressive and hugely disappointing performances in the space of a few days to set up the decisive match.

"It's ended up that way and a must-win from both sides to win the series," said JP Duminy, the South Africa batsman, who played a big part in the Proteas' 80-run win at St George's Park. "Hopefully we can just rock up and put in another clinical performance like we did on Sunday."

Australia may have lost their last two 50-over series in South Africa - in 2006 and 2009 - but they won at Durban in both those contests for a 3-0 record in their past 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 Australians, 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 No 1 position in the world and that is something that [the new captain] Michael Clarke continuously talks to us about and he says to us often: 'We're the No 1 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."

South Africa were also boosted by their own rankings success this week after Morne Morkel moved to the top of the ODI bowlers following his four for 22 in Port Elizabeth.

They have the top-ranked bowler and top-ranked batsman (Hashim Amla) in ODIs, and the top-ranked bowler (Dale Steyn) and batsman (Jacques Kallis) in Tests.