South Africa downed Australia by 40 runs to clinch the one day international series 2-1 thanks to centuries from David Miller and Faf du Plessis and a three-wicket haul from veteran Dale Steyn at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart on Sunday.
Man of the match Miller smashed 139 from 108 deliveries and his captain, Du Plessis cracked 125 from 114 balls as the pair shared in a record 252-run stand for the fourth wicket as the Proteas posted 320 for five after being asked to bat first.
In reply, Australia looked to be within a shout as Shaun Marsh (106) and Marcus Stoinis (63) were at the crease. But once the fourth-wicket stand of 107 was broken, the home side fell behind despite valiant efforts from Alex Carey (42) and Glenn Maxwell (35) and Australia were restricted to 280 for nine.
The Proteas clinched just their third ODI series on Australian soil since 1993, their last being in 2009 but it was the fourth-wicket stand between Miller and Du Plessis which set the tone for the mammoth total, the first time that the Proteas had posted more than 300 in the Antipodes.
South Africa’s continued poor starts surfaced again as Quinton de Kock (4), Reeza Hendricks (8) and Aiden Markram (32) found themselves back in the hut with the total on 55. De Kock edged Mitchell Starc (10-1-57-2) to Carey behind the stumps before Stoinis (7-0-70-2) had Hendricks edging down the legside to Carey.
Markram smashed three sixes and a four before tickling a ball from Starc down the legside to Carey to leave the visitors in some discomfort. But Miller and Du Plessis set about rebuilding the innings and once they had their eyes set, the pair tore into the Australian bowling attack, smashing 130 runs in the final 10 overs, 75 of which came in the last five overs.
Du Plessis, who registered his 10th ODI century and fourth against the Australians, was finally dismissed, caught off a rank long-hop from Stoinis, the damage had already been done with the Proteas captain smashing 15 boundaries and two sixes. But it was Miller who was the early aggressor, making the fastest century by a South African on Australian soil, needing just 95 balls for the feat.
Miller cracked 13 fours and four sixes in his innings which was a major contributor to the 203-ball fourth-wicket stand. Miller departed in the final over, being caught on the boundary by Aaron Finch off Josh Hazlewood (10-1-53-1). Starc, Hazlewood and Pat Cummins (10-2-67-0) had restricted the visitors to just 125 for three at the halfway mark but Miller and Du Plessis changed that picture very quickly.
In reply, Dale Steyn (10-0-45-3) gave the Proteas the perfect start in defense of their total as he removed Chris Lynn for a duck, caught behind by De Kock before Lungi Ngidi (10-0-56-1) had Finch (11) popping a ball straight to Kagiso Rabada at mid-off.
Rabada then got in on the act, having Travis Head caught by Markram for just six to leave the home side in trouble at 39 for three but Marsh, who missed the first ODI through injury, and Stoinis set about laying a platform that the hosts could attack from.
The pair posted 107 runs for the fourth wicket from 121 balls before Dwaine Pretorius (10-0-61-2) got a ball to bounce a little more and Stoinis clubbed the delivery straight to Markram at point. Stoinis struck five fours and four sixes in his 76-ball knock but Carey continued where Stoinis had left off.
The Australian wicketkeeper struck just one four and one six but faced just 41 balls before being caught behind by De Kock off Steyn. The Australian fans heads dropped when Marsh, who faced 102 balls for his century, which included seven boundaries and four maximums, launched a ball from Pretorius high into the air where Heinrich Klaasen steadied himself for the catch.
Maxwell walked out and struck his first ball for four but struck just two more from 27 balls before slicing a ball from Steyn down the throat of Hendricks on the cover boundary. Rabada then had Starc caught and bowled without scoring and had Adam Zampa caught at mid-on by Du Plessis, also without scoring.
The teams now focus on the one-off T20 international which takes place next Friday.
** As published on Supersport.com **