MANCHESTER – South Africa kept arguably their best batting performance for their final World Cup outing with captain Faf du Plessis leading the way with a superb century.
Du Plessis struck a superb 100 off 94 balls – the Proteas' only three-figure score of the entire World Cup – to power his team to 325/6.
He was provided with superb support from Rassie van der Dussen (95 off 97 balls) as the pair shared a 151-run stand for the third wicket. Van der Dussen was content to play second fiddle for much of the partnership as he initially struggled to gauge the pace of the wicket.
Du Plessis, meanwhile, had no such issues. He stroked the ball around freely from the moment he walked to the crease after an enterprising opening partnership of 79 in just 11.3 overs between Aiden Markram and Quinton de Kock.
Markram (34 off 37 balls) opened the innings in the absence of the injured Hashim Amla, who went down after injuring his knee at training yesterday. However, the talented right-hander will once again look back at an opportunity missed to really nail down a marker in limited-overs cricket.
Equally, De Kock’s World Cup tale followed a similar script. Although he pushed on to his third half-century of the tournament, South Africa’s wicket-keeper is capable of so much more. His talent places him in the top echelon of players around the globe, but his execution is nowhere near the likes of Rohit Sharma, Aaron Finch and Jonny Bairstow’s.
Du Plessis was not leaving anything to chance though. His timing was immaculate, especially when he waltzed down the wicket to despatch Pat Cummins straight back over his head. It was a shot that signified South Africa’s confidence on the day.
Upon Du Plessis’ dismissal, Van der Dussen shifted gears. He had benefitted greatly from a missed stumping by Alez Carey when he had just four off 22 balls. However, once settled he struck four maximums to finish within one shot of a maiden ODI ton.
Unfortunately for JP Duminy, he arrived when the slog was firmly on in the final 10 overs and could only contribute 14 off 13 balls in his final ODI innings for the Proteas.
Du Plessis said at the break that he was “well-pleased” with South Africa’s total. Whether it will be enough to deny Australia top spot on the ladder will be decided over the next 50 overs.