South Africa beat Australia in Bloem to secure ODI Series
JOHANNESBURG – Janneman Malan’s maiden international century, in just his second ODI, inspired South Africa to a first series win in a year.
Having seen series leads slip in all three formats against England earlier this summer, this triumph will come as great relief to the players and the coaching staff. Wednesday evening’s victory in Bloemfontein - in front of a crowd of 10 122 - also came without a significant contribution from Quinton de Kock who was dismissed second ball by Mitchell Starc in the first over of South Africa’s chase.
Malan stepped to the fore - like Heinrich Klaasen did in Paarl last Saturday - producing a calm and calculated innings that saw him grow in stature the longer it lasted. Malan was not out on 129 off 139 balls having hit seven fours and four sixes.
There were moments of good fortune, including a ridiculous reverse sweep off Mitchell Marsh that was top edged with the ball falling in a gap between four Australian fielders. But that was all the help Malan needed from Lady Luck.
He played the ball cleverly into gaps, ran hard and when the occasion called for it, struck the ball firmly to the boundary. Along the way there were critical partnerships; 91 for the second wicket with JJ Smuts, who scored 41 and 81 for the fourth wicket with Klaasen, who backed up his hundred in the first game, with a well-made 51 at the Mangaung Oval.
At the end, David Miller, shared an unbeaten partnership of 90 with Malan, to put a seal on the series. Miller, under pressure for not always contributing in a meaningful manner, struck the winning boundary through the covers and finished not out on 37.
Earlier a maiden One-Day International ‘five-for’ Lungi Ngidi was the highlight of a good bowling performance by the Proteas in the second ODI against Australia in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
On what is a flat surface the home team did well to limit the tourists to less than 300, and it could have been better had they been able to hold all their catches - dropping four through the innings. Ngidi finished with 6/58, the ninth best figures by a South Africa in ODIs.
The Australian innings was held together by half-centuries from their captain, Aaron Finch and left-hander D’Arcy Short, but besides a rapid start from David Warner, who made 35 off 23 balls, there was little else from the Australian batsmen.
Their target could and probably should have been more however, but South Africa’s bowlers were able to take wickets on a fairly regular basis ensuring the tourists couldn’t launch as emphatically as they wanted to in the final 10 overs. In fact the Australians scored just 49 runs in the last 10 overs - losing six wickets in the process.
Warner got Australia off to a flying start after Finch had chosen to bat first on what looked glorious surface for batting at the Mangaung Oval. The powerful left-hand opener, smashed 35 off only 23 balls, as Australia scored 73 runs in the opening 10 overs. By that point Warner was out, the first Ngidi’s six wickets, driving a ball that bounced on him off a good length to Janneman Malan in the covers.
Steve Smith added 31 for the second wicket with Finch before clipping Ngidi to JJ Smuts at midwicket after scoring 13. The big South African found himself on a hat-trick when he dismissed Marnus Labuschagne first ball - the South African-born right hander punching a short ball to point where Malan held onto a sharp chance.
The hat-trick ball - to Short - was a waste down leg-side and the South Africans were made to pay for letting both Finch and Short off the hook.
Finch was dropped at leg-slip by Smuts off the bowling of Tabraiz Shamsi when he had 35, while Short was missed twice, the first time by Andile Phehlukwayo - a straight forward caught and bowled chance with Short on 11 - the second much harder by Miller at mid-wicket, the fielder having to dive high to his left, and grassing the opportunity after reaching the ball.
Finch added 77 runs for the fourth.
Finch, notched up his 25th ODI half-century with some powerful striking, but was too loose attempting to smash Nortje over the covers and was caught behind for 69 (87b, 6x4, 2x6). Short matched his skipper, making the same score - his fifth ODI - facing 83 deliveries and hitting five fours.
South Africa’s spinners, Keshav Maharaj and Shamsi squeezed the Australians smartly through the middle overs with the former conceding 53 runs in 10 overs, and Shamsi 54, that included the wicket of Short.
South Africa 274/4
South Africa won by 6 wickets.