Milestone man Markram trusts basic instincts as SA set new record score at World Cup

Milestone man Markram trusts basic instincts as SA set new record score at World Cup
Aiden Markram celebrates after scoring a hundred during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 match between South Africa and Sri Lanka on 7 October 2023 at Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia/ Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Aiden Markram smashed a 49-ball hundred, the fastest ever in the men’s 50-overs World Cup, as South Africa’s rampaging top order helped them thrash Sri Lanka by 102 runs in their tournament opener on Saturday.

It took Aiden Markram only a couple of deliveries to realise it was going to be his day on a belter of a track, the South African power-hitter said after smashing the fastest-ever century in the men’s World Cup against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

Three of South Africa’s top four batters smashed rapid hundreds as they racked up a tournament record total of 428 for five en route to a comprehensive victory over the 1996 champions.

Captain Temba Bavuma fell cheaply, but Quinton de Kock (100) and Rassie van der Dussen (108) forged a 204-run stand to lay the platform for Markram’s fireworks.

“It’s a strange one. I certainly didn’t wake up this morning thinking it would turn out that way,” Markram, who smashed a 49-ball hundred, told reporters.

“I gave a couple of bowls up front to get a feel of the wicket and eventually realised, watching Quinny and Rassie bat, and having that initial feel that it was a really good wicket.

“The outfield was really fast. The value for short is always there and that’s almost what I was thinking all the time.”

It rained 31 sixes and 74 fours in the run-fest at the Arun Jaitley Stadium as Sri Lanka made a spirited reply before being all out for 326.

A total of 754 runs were scored in the match, and Markram was adjudged player of the match.

“You do a lot of planning and stuff like that before the game. I think it’s natural for most teams to speculate on conditions,” he said.

“When you get out and the wicket starts playing really well, it’s a big sigh of relief. And then … instinct does take over, it’s sort of see-ball-hit-ball mentality.”

For the first time in a World Cup match, three batters made a hundred in the same innings and all three South Africans broke into animated celebration after reaching the milestone.

“It’s quite strange because you get this thing that just takes over your body at certain moments,” Markram said.

“We put a lot of emphasis on today’s game, to start well … It’s all of those emotions sort of mixed up and then building up and that just comes out.”

Batters impress

SA's batters give a sterling performance at World Cup.

Quinton de Kock reacts after scoring a century during South Africa’s Cricket World Cup 2023 match against Sri Lanka on 7 October 2023 at Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia/Gallo Images)

South Africa’s record-breaking win was a show of strength from their sizzling top six, but if they are to end their tournament curse in the 50-over format, their bowling unit needs to fire.

It was not a batting performance out of nowhere – they scored 416 in an ODI against Australia last month, and also posted scores of 338 and 316 in that series, which they won 3-2.

In Markram, De Kock, Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller, they have four of the most destructive hitters in the game, to go with the more measured approach of Bavuma and Van der Dussen in their top six.

“We have learnt to play with positive thinking,” Markram said. “We’re known to start pretty slowly, be it in a series or world events.

“But I think there’s a lot of passion in this team to give our absolute all at this World Cup and see how far it can get us. It’s nice for us to be able to go through the gears as a unit.”

Bowling armoury

SA breaks records at World Cup

South African fast bowler Kagiso Rabada celebrates after taking the wicket of Sri Lanka’s Kusal Mendis during SA’s first match of the 2023 World Cup. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/Getty Images)

South Africa will challenge any bowling attack, but whether they have the armoury with the ball to match that will decide their fate in this tournament.

At one stage Sri Lanka were on course to overhaul their total, before South Africa won by 102 runs.

They have a champion fast bowler in Kagiso Rabada and a wily spinner in Keshav Maharaj, but after that it is the inconsistent Lungi Ngidi, and the rawness of young seamers Marco Jansen and Gerald Coetzee.

Jansen took two wickets against Sri Lanka, but also went for 92 in his 10 overs.

“We asked for a clinical performance with the ball and didn’t get that, but individual performances were good,” Bavuma said.

“We probably didn’t adjust early enough (to the conditions). Kesh (Maharaj) took the pace off and was very good; maybe we need to add spin options.”

South Africa also have wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi in their squad. They play Australia in their second game on Thursday. Reuters/DM


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