South Africa have defeated Australia by 74 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series. The Player of the Match was Heinrich Klaasen who notched up a brilliant maiden ODI century. South Africa were 48/3 when Klaasen walked out to bat and the fact that they ended their innings on 291/7 just shows how special the Pretoria-born cricketer’s knock was.
Klaasen wasn’t the only star for the hosts, with Lungi Ngidi’s three wickets with the ball also playing a huge role in their victory.
After opting to bat first, the hosts had gotten off to a poor start, with debutant Janneman Malan falling to Mitchell Starc off the first delivery of the match. It was a typical Starc delivery - a full in-swinging ball which struck Malan on his toe before hitting the bat. The on-field umpire gave the decision in favour of the batsman, but once Australia reviewed the call, there was little doubt on what the final outcome would be.
Then, the in-form duo of Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma began with intent. They put on 33 runs for the second wicket before the former perished, with Josh Hazlewood finding the edge of the South African captain's bat. Bavuma, who was dropped by Starc in the ninth over, was bowled by Pat Cummins in the very next over.
South Africa were in deep trouble at 48/3, but Verreynne (48) and Klaasen started the fightback for the hosts by stitching together a 78-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Verreynne fell just two runs short of a half-century on ODI debut as Cummins claimed his second wicket of the day and the 100th of his ODI career.
Klaasen then found company in the form of David Miller (64). The left-handed batsman didn't have a great T20I series against the same opposition but looked in very good touch from the word-go this time around. While Miller managed to score his 14th ODI fifty, the partnership between Klaasen and him was worth 149 runs, the highest fifth wicket partnership for South Africa against Australia in ODIs.
Off the second delivery of the 47th over, Klaasen's big moment came as he brought up his first ODI ton with a single. It was a well-deserved hundred for the 28-year-old who hit seven fours and three sixes during his knock and was unbeaten on 123 from 114 deliveries at the end of the innings.
It was interesting to note that the Australian spin duo of Adam Zampa and D'Arcy Short didn't find much success on this pitch. While both failed to take a wicket, Zampa and Short induced a false shot with only 6.6% and 3.3% of their deliveries respectively. On the other hand, Starc and Cummins induced false shots with more than 20% of their deliveries while Hazlewood's percentage was 16.6.
Cummins was the pick of the Australian bowlers, taking three wickets for 45 runs.
In reply, Australia's pursuit of 292 didn't get off to the best start, with Lungi Ngidi dismissing both openers Aaron Finch (10) and David Warner (25) early on. Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, who have teamed up well in the Test arena recently, then put on an 84-run stand for the third wicket.
Just as Labuschagne looked to up the scoring rate, he was dismissed by Keshav Maharaj for 41. In his three ODI knocks so far, he has got a start in every match and surely a big score is not far away.
The next man in was Mitchell Marsh and, before he could make a significant contribution, he was bowled by Ngidi for 16. It was a brilliant piece of captaincy from de Kock who brought Ngidi back into the bowling attack during a crucial period of the match.
With the match evenly poised at the time, Smith was the key for the away team. The right-handed batsman showed a great deal of patience as he brought up his 25th ODI half-century, having hit just one boundary before reaching the 50-run mark. But his dismissal by Anrich Nortje in the 35th over for 76 titled the match decisively in South Africa's favour.
Soon after, Tabriaz Shamsi took the wickets of Alex Carey and Short which finished all hopes of an unlikely Australian win. The visitors ended up losing their last five wickets for just 22 runs.
The two teams will now move to Bloemfontein for the second ODI which is scheduled for Wednesday (March 4).