Centurions Du Plessis and Miller help Proteas to series win over Australia
Faf du Plessis took himself seriously to help David Miller earn South Africa victory in their one-day series against Australia in Hobart on Sunday.
A slew of records were set in a third ODI in which the visitors put up 320/5 before restricting the Australians to 280/9 to claim the spoils by 40 runs for a 2-1 series success.
On Friday, after Australia levelled the rubber with a seven-run win in Adelaide, not least by reducing SA to 68/4 on their way to a total of 224/9, Du Plessis made plain his unhappiness: “We let ourselves down with the bat, [I’m] very disappointed. We needed one more batter to stay with Dave.”
On Sunday, Du Plessis was that batsman, scoring 125 in a stand of 252 with Miller, who made 139.
SA’s total marked the first time they had topped 300 in the 39 ODIs they have played against the Aussies in Australia, and the partnership was the biggest yet made against the not so mellow yellow fellows in all 919 games they have played in the format.
The stand rescued an innings that teetered at 55/3 in the 16th over, and endured for 33 overs. But it had its moments.
It might have been ended in the 27th when Du Plessis, on 29, late cut Glenn Maxwell and wicketkeeper Alex Carey failed to latch onto the edge.
In the 33rd Miller was given out leg-before by umpire Aleem Dar to Maxwell for 41. After a lengthy mid-pitch consultation, Du Plessis signalled for the referral.
But, according to the regulations, only the relevant batsman can send the decision upstairs. Miller then made his own, albeit far less emphatic, T sign.
And a good thing, too, for SA: replays showed the ball would have sailed over the top of leg stump.
More than half the partnership — 148 — was struck in fours and sixes by a pair of batsmen who showed exactly the kind of controlled aggression their team will need if they are to challenge for next year’s Cricket World Cup in England.
Mitchell Starc earned a record all of his own. His last over, in which Du Plessis smashed him over mid-off for six and Miller hammered a hattrick of fours through mid-off, midwicket and square leg, went for 20 runs: Starc’s most expensive over in his 75 ODIs.
Australia made a shaky start to their reply when Chris Lynn, who has batted at No. 4 in his other three ODIs, was bumped up the order to open, tried to drive Dale Steyn’s first ball, and jerked his head backwards to see Quinton de Kock dive and take the catch.
The Aussies were 39/3 when Marcus Stoinis joined Shaun Marsh to add 107.
Stoinis slapped Dwaine Pretorius to backward point to go for 63 in the 30th, but Marsh made it all the way to 106 — clipped off 102 balls with seven fours and four sixes — before he skied Pretorius into the deep, where Heinrich Klaasen held on.
With Marsh’s exit in the 42nd over when Australia’s hopes of achieving what would have been only their third win in the 13 ODIs they have played in 2018.
South Africa’s bowlers, who more than did their bit in the first two games, were overshadowed by their batsmen for a change.
But it didn’t hurt that Steyn claimed 3/45 and that Kagiso Rabada took 3/40, both from all 10 their overs.
Better yet, Rabada — who courted trouble in Adelaide by giving Lynn an aggressive verbal send-off — stayed on the straight and narrow.
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