Proteas finally find winning ways, thanks to Markram century against Australia
South Africa thumped Australia by 111 runs to reinvigorate their World Cup preparations and fight back in the ODI series.
South Africa got their World Cup preparations back on track with a well-constructed 111-run victory over Australia in the third one day international (ODI) at Potchefstroom on Tuesday evening.
It was the Proteas’ first victory over the opposition from Down Under since their arrival in the country six matches ago. It means the one-day international series sits at 2-1 to Australia with two matches left before its conclusion.
Aiden Markram struck a superb century — the second of his ODI career — at the chilly JB Marks Oval, which helped the hosts to an above-par score of 338 for six, before spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi conspired to bowl a web around the Aussie batters which saw them all out for 227.
Markram put on a much-needed showpiece innings after scores of 19 and three in the series thus far.
South Africa looked on track to score in excess of 400 at one stage, but a surprisingly accurate spell of spin bowling by part-timer Travis Head — two wickets in 10 overs for 39 runs — pegged the home side back before Markram provided the innings with late impetus.
The Proteas got off to their best start in this series, with Quinton de Kock (82 off 77) and skipper Temba Bavuma (57 off 62), in particular, mauling the Australian quicks to the boundary ropes with regularity.
De Kock found his groove for the first time in the series to notch up his first half-century in 10 innings in the ODI format.
Bavuma, meanwhile, passed 50 for the second time in the three-match series with a scampered two runs across the large Potchefstroom outfield.
The pair put on 146 for the first wicket before De Kock and Bavuma lost their wickets within an over of each other, in the 23rd and 24th, to Head and Tanveer Sangha on debut, respectively.
Reeza Hendricks and Markram steaded the wobbly ship with a well-accumulated 76-run third-wicket partnership before the former was slickly run out by Marnus Labuschagne.
Markram, meanwhile, cut every slice of grass on the JB Marks Oval with his exquisite drives in the “V”.
Marco Jansen (32 off 16 balls) offered the strokemaker able support, toward the back-end of the innings, after David Miller (eight off 17) and Heinrich Klaasen (zero off two) fell in quick succession of one another.
Jansen and Markram took the team total to over 300 as the latter edged towards his ton.
It looked like Markram would run out of balls to get to the elusive mark, but the swashbuckling batter pumped Hazlewood over his head off the final delivery of the innings to bring up his century off only 74 deliveries, striking nine fours and four mammoth sixes.
The sweet strike down the ground took South Africa to a huge total of 336 for six.
Australia, like South Africa, got their innings off to a rollicking start — thanks to Head (38 off 24) and David Warner (78 off 56).
The pair thundered to 79 runs within the first eight overs before Sisanda Magala — playing his first match of the tour — dismissed Head.
Warner brought up his 28th ODI half-century off only 27 deliveries.
Aussie skipper Mitchell Marsh (29 off 26) joined the carnage with Warner to take his side’s total to 140 off the first 15 overs of the innings — going at more than nine runs to the over — before he lost his wicket.
Shamsi grabbed Marsh’s scalp thanks to a comfortable catch at long-on by David Miller.
It was Shamsi and fellow spinner Maharaj who turned the match on its head, with both their economy rates hovering around four runs to the over while the pacers were closer to 10.
Magala, in his first outing back after a knee injury, was particularly wayward in line and length and was duly punished off Warner’s blade.
South Africa were lucky to dismiss Warner with a run-out, conducted by Maharaj, after the batter’s spikes slipped off his foot as he tried to turn.
The slipping continued in the Aussie lineup as the side fell from 140 for two in the 15th over to 200 for seven in the 31st over.
Australia were staring down the barrel at that point and Gerald Coetzee cleaned up the tail, with Australia all out for 227 within 35 overs.
Maharaj (two wickets), Coetzee (four wickets) and Shamsi (two wickets) were the chief destroyers, sharing eight wickets between them.
South Africa and Australia face off in the penultimate ODI on Friday at SuperSport Park in Centurion. DM