South Africa 311 for 7(De Kock 109, Markram 56) beat Australia 177 (Labuschagne 46, Rabada 3-33) by 134 runs
If South Africa really do want to move through this 2023 World Cup under the radar, they must do better than this. Because in wiping the floor with Australia in Lucknow, winning by a mammoth 134 runs for their second victory in as many games, they have put out one hell of a statement that is impossible to ignore.
However, it will be far more productive for Australia to assess their own mistakes, missing an eye-watering seven chances in the first half of this counter. Temba Bavuma was on the right end of three of them. A top edge on 15 caught Adam Zampa lacking at deep third, before an edge off the leg spinner was missed with the Proteas skipper on 19. He was then lucky to continue his innings on 31 when a relay catch on the midwicket boundary could not be completed after substitute fielder Sean Abbott’s overarm toss back into play went over the head of Mitchell Starc.
The crux of de Kock’s assault was the clarity of every shot in anger. The early swing and seam available to Starc and Josh Hazlewood, respectively, lent itself to a quiet start. The opening batter soon turned up the volume with a flick for six over square leg off the former, followed by a brace of fours, guided then driven square, off the latter, across the fifth and sixth over.
His steady progress allowed Bavuma to go at his own pace, pitching in with 17 from the 53 managed in the powerplay, then 35 in the overall opening stand of 108 before falling to Maxwell to a catch at deep midwicket. Though Maxwell was able to follow that up with a maiden against de Kock in the 22nd over, the left-hander made amends in the 23rd with a brace of sixes over backward square leg off Hazlewood.
A half-century stand for the second wicket ended with Rassie van der Dussen falling to Zampa, failing to clear straight where, this time, Abbott had enough room between him and the sponge to complete the dismissal himself. Eight deliveries later, de Kock heaved over the leg side for his fifth six to bring up his third ODI hundred against Australia.
With the score 171 for 2 and 20 overs remaining, the threat of an insurmountable total was taking its toll on Cummins, evident when he burned a review against de Kock – on 104 – for a speculative outside edge off his own bowling. But the wicket they craved would come, de Kock trying to force the issue with a reverse sweep that made its way onto his own stumps.
That was the second batter to fall to Maxwell, who would eventually close out his 10 overs without conceding a boundary as they continued to flow elsewhere. Markram and Heinrich Klassen combined to heap more misery on Hazlewood in the 38th, with three boundaries in an over costing 14. The pair brought up another fifty stand – this one off 41 deliveries. Markram would take as many himself to bring up one of his own in the midst of Zampa’s final two overs getting carted for 25.
At that point – 263 for 3 with seven overs to go – Australia began to pull things back with pace-off deliveries. Cummins nabbed Markram with a cutter guided to backward point, then Klaasen top-edged Hazlewood’s slower bumper through to Inglis – both in the space of seven deliveries.
Starc was struck for a six by Jansen, who then skewed over third up in the ring for four. The left-armer then dropped Miller on 10, having seemingly caught a tough chance at backward square leg only for the ball to pop out as he bumped to the ground. Two balls later, Stoinis shelled an easier high chance at cover for Jansen’s life.
Starc would close things out emphatically – Warner catching Jansen, Miller yorked – in a final over which would reap just one run via a leg bye. Australia looked back in contention with the damage from the final seven overs limited to just 48 runs.
Unfortunately, South Africa’s quicks had been taking notes. And in among the movement with the two shiny new Kookaburras were variations that accounted for Australia’s openers Mitchell Marsh and David Warner in seven deliveries up to the end of the seventh over. Marsh skied to Bavuma at mid off after Jansen got a delivery to stop in the pitch, before Warner slapped a similar ball straight to cover in the second of Lungi Ngidi’s two maidens in the first four overs of his 50th ODI.
Then came Smith’s contentious LBW appeal, having struck two crisp fours off Rabada, who left nothing up for debate when squaring up Inglis to take out the right-hander’s off stump. When Maxwell’s leading edge gave Keshav Maharaj a simple return catch, Australia’s goose was well and truly cooked at 65 for 5 with 247 still required from 33.5 overs.
A defiant stand of 69 – the second highest of the match – was put together by Marnus Labuschagne and Starc after Stoinis fell. The aim was solely NRR preservation, clawing back what pride they could before extra bounce from Jansen and a chip to cover off Maharaj saw another two dismissals.
Cummins and Zampa heaved for 32 more between them, before Tabraiz Shamsi – playing instead of Gerald Coetzee – took two in three, Cummins and Hazlewood skying into the off side, to have something to show for his day.
The moment of victory arrived with 9.1 overs to go. But really, the match was done a long time before.
Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo