Scintillating centuries from Faf Du Plessis and David Miller helped South Africa beat Australia by 40 runs in the third one day international at Hobart on Sunday.
After winning the toss and electing to field, the home side appeared to have fully justified skipper Aaron Finch’s decision when they picked up South Africa’s top three with just 50 odd on board for the visitors.
The first to go was wicket keeper Quinton De Kock, caught by Alex Carey off Mitchell Starc for 4. His opening partner Reeza Hendricks was the next to follow, caught down the leg side by Carey off the bowling of Marcus Stoinis.
Aiden Markram looked very good in his innings of 32 hitting three beautiful sixes and a four before he fell in similar fashion to Hendricks leaving the Proteas in a whole world of trouble at 55/3.
Faf du Plessis and David Miller had looked the best of the Proteas batsmen in their chase in Adelaide and they dug in here too as South Africa began rebuilding. The duo had their moments of luck- Du Plessis was dropped by the normally reliable Carey, Miller had a LBW overturned on DRS and then had another reprieve as Finch failed to hang on to a skier.
As the two began to settle in, runs started to come at will and they added a magnificent partnership of 252 runs for the 4th wicket, South Africa’s highest ever in this format against the Australians. 130 were scored in the last 10 and 75 off the last five as the Proteas finished with 320/5 in their 50 oves.
Starc and Stoinis claimed 2 wickets apiece, but every Australian bowler, including these two, was taken to the cleaners at the death.
Chasing a tough target of 321, the home side started disastrously as Chris Lynn, who was promoted to open, fell in the very first over to Dale Steyn.
Skipper Aaron Finch and Travis Head followed soon after leaving them struggling at 39/3.
Shaun Marsh and Stoinis then added a 107 run partnership that was beginning to resemble the Du Plessis-Miller stand before Dwaine Pretorius broke through, getting rid of the latter for 63.
Somewhat surprisingly, Australia opted to send in Alex Carey ahead of Glenn Maxwell. Marsh and Carey kept the hosts in the hunt with a 80 run stand, before the 35 year left hander also fell to Pretorius, with Heinrich Klaasen doing well to hold on in the deep.
That wicket brought Maxwell to the crease and while he showed glimpses of his talent in his 35, South Africa’s bowlers stuck to their lengths in the death overs and the Australians were unable to get them away. In the end, Australia’s wayward bowling in the last 10 cost them, with the Proteas winning by 40 runs.
Dale Steyn was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3/45 in 10 overs, and this was a fantastic series for the veteran pacer, who is aiming to make it to next year’s World Cup in England.
David Miller was declared the Man of the match and the Series. His timely return to form will also be well received by Proteas fans following his lean run in the last 12 months.