Cape Town — A fresh new era of South African cricket began in the most thrilling fashion with the Proteas claiming a 27-run victory over England in the first ODI in Bloemfontein on Friday evening.
New coach Shukri Conrad has promised that his team — albeit on a part-time basis while Rob Walter is still in New Zealand — would look to seize “the big moments” and embrace the challenge of playing the best in the world.
🚨 RESULT | SOUTH AFRICA WON BY 27 RUNS— Proteas Men (@ProteasMenCSA) January 27, 2023
A remarkable fightback in the middle overs, led by Anrich Nortje (4/62) and Sisanda Magala (3/46), turned the match on its head after England came out firing with a 146-run opening stand#SAvENG #BePartOfIt pic.twitter.com/dEqIsxrfsa
Well, they don’t come any bigger with the world champions England requiring just 77 runs off 16.2 overs with six wickets still remaining.
But that’s when Sisanda Magala (3/46) re-entered the fray. The burly seamer had already made an impact on his return to the Proteas team by making the crucial opening breakthrough when he removed Dawid Malan for 59 before also trapping ODI debutant Harry Brooke for a duck.
Magala’s lasting impact on the game was still to come though when he forced Moeen Ali to drag a delivery from outside the off-stump down to mid-wicket.
England’s door was now open, and Anrich Nortje did not require a second invitation to barge it down. The Proteas express had struggled initially in his first spell when centurion Jason Roy (113 off just 91 balls,11x4, 4x6) took a liking to his extra pace.
But in his second spell, Nortje was simply brilliant as he ran through England’s middle-order to revive the Proteas from virtual death. It was an inspirational spell that South African cricket desperately needed after the calamitous recent tour to Australia.
Nortje claimed the big wicket of England captain Jos Buttler before closing out the job with David Willey and Joftra Archer’s scalps to finish with 4/62 after earlier also removing Ben Ducket. It was a major transformation after initial figures of 1/49 from six overs.
The coupe de grace was left to Tabraiz Shamsi after the wrist-spinner had also suffered earlier during the 146-run opening stand that came in just 19.3 overs.
It showed terrific leadership from captain Temba Bavuma to keep faith with Shamsi, who repaid his skipper by completing a juggled caught-and-bowled to send England’s last-man Olly Stone packing and the Manguang Oval into a state of delirium.
England had lost their last five wickets for the addition of just 49 runs.
Earlier, Rassie van der Dussen’s fourth ODI century helped set up South Africa’s 298/7.
Van der Dussen struck 111 off 117 balls (6x4, 1x6) that ensured the South African bowlers would have a competitive target to defend.
The classy right-hander walked to the crease after a positive opening stand between Quinton de Kock and captain Temba Bavuma.
The 61-run partnership in just 8.4 overs saw a reversal of roles with skipper Bavuma being the aggressor. Despite not playing since the Australian Test due being overlooked for the Betway SA20, Bavuma struck the ball sweetly during his 36 off just 28 balls, which included four boundaries and a six.
But just when Bavuma seemed set to take the game away from the world champions early on, he gave it all away with a mistimed hoick that was unable to clear Sam Curran at mid-on off Moeen Ali.
It was a similar miscalculation that led to his dismissal against Australia’s Nathan Lyon in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne when he was equally well set.
De Kock was more subdued during his 37 off 41 balls (5x4, 1x6) and seemed to be setting up his stall to play the anchor role in South Africa’s innings, but he too gave it away by feathering a catch behind off Curran bouncer.
A rebuilding process was required after the loss of two wickets between Van der Dussen and Aiden Markram, but the latter perished for 13 when he struck Olly Stone straight to Dawid Malan at cover.
Van der Dussen, though, remained the constant throughout the innings and maintained the momentum by building solid partnerships. Initially, it was with Heinrich Klaasen (30 off 32 balls) as the pair added 55 for the fourth wicket.
But the defining partnership followed with David Miller (53 off 56 balls) as the pair added 110 that inched South Africa close to the 300-run mark.
Unfortunately for the hosts, they lost Van der Dussen at a critical period of the innings with 16 balls still remaining.
To England’s credit, their bowling unit stuck to their task throughout with Curran finishing with 3/35, while all the bowlers picked up at least one wicket bar Willey.
Archer’s return to international cricket after a lengthy absence was a rusty one with the fast bowler returning figures of 1/81.
When Roy and Malan were stroking the white ball to all parts of Bloemfontein, it seemed like the target was 40 runs shy of being competitive.
But there’s a new coach in Conrad in town and it seems like he’s galvanised the old fighting spirit that South African cricket has always been renowned for.
South Africa: 298/7 (Van der Dussen 111, Miller 53, S Curran 3/35)
England: 271 all out (Roy 113, Malan 59, Nortje 4/62, Magala 3/46)
South Africa won by 27 runs, lead series 1-0