Faf du Plessis ton leads SA charge to consolation win

Australia's Glenn Maxwell (L) looks on after a collision with South Africa's captain Faf du Plessis during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between Australia and South Africa at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on July 6, 2019.
Australia's Glenn Maxwell (L) looks on after a collision with South Africa's captain Faf du Plessis during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between Australia and South Africa at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on July 6, 2019.
Image: Paul ELLIS / AFP

Faf du Plessis led from the front with a century to earn South Africa a consolation victory over Australia in their men’s World Cup game at Old Trafford on Saturday.

South Africa posted their biggest total of the tournament, 325/6, and dismissed Australia for 315 overs — a total powered by David Warner’s 122 — to win by 10 runs.

The result did nothing for Du Plessis’ team’s cause in a tournament in which they lost five of their eight games were the first of the 10 teams to crash out of the running for the semi-finals.

But it stopped the Australians, who were the first side to book their place in the final four, from finishing on top of the log.

Had they won they would have earned a semi against fourth-placed New Zealand at the same venue on Tuesday.

Instead Aaron Finch’s team will take on resurgent England, who beat the other semi-finalists, India and New Zealand, in their previous two matches, at Edgbaston on Thursday.

Du Plessis’ 94-ball 100, which sparkled with seven fours and two sixes, was his third consecutive score of at least 50 and South Africa’s only century of the tournament.

Rassie van der Dussen came close to emulating his captain, but he was caught in the deep off the last ball of the innings trying to hit the six that would have taken him to three figures.

Van der Dussen’s 95 flew off 97 deliveries and included four fours and as many sixes.

Together Du Plessis and Van der Dussen anchored South Africa’s innings from the 18th over until the 43rd in their stand of 151.

That followed a solid start in the shape of an opening stand of 79 between Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram — who replaced Hashim Amla, who injured a knee during training on Thursday.

De Kock clipped 52 off 51 with seven fours, his third half-century of the World Cup.

South Africa’s performance was in stark contrast to their batting in the rest of a tournament in which they made only two other totals of more than 250.

One of the few highlights from South Africa’s innings for Australia was that Mitchell Starc’s 2/59 took him to 26 wickets for the World Cup — which equalled the record compatriot Glenn McGrath set at the 2007 edition of the tournament.

Australia’s reply wobbled to an effective 33/3 in the seventh over with Finch and Steve Smith dismissed and Usman Khawaja retired hurt because of a hamstring injury.

Warner should have been run out off the third ball of Australia’s innings, but Kagiso Rabada throw wild and to the wrong end.

Instead the combative left-hander, playing his first game against South Africa since being banned for ball-tampering in the Newlands Test in March last year, hit 15 fours and twosixes from the 117 balls he faced.

Warner and Marcus Stoinis added 62 before De Kock flicked Kagiso Rabada’s throw onto the stumps to run out Stoinis, and the same combination reduced Australia to 119/4 in the 25th over.

Rabada bowled a bouncer to Glenn Maxwell, whose top edge was well held by De Kock jumping high to claim the catch one-handed.

Warner and Alex Carey kept Australia in the contest with a bustling stand of 108 off 90 balls that would have been ended at 54 had Imran Tahir taken the return catch offered by Carey.

Warner hammered 15 fours and two sixes off the 117 balls he faced, while Carey hit his career-best 85 off 69 deliveries with 11 fours and a six.

Rabada claimed 3/56, but South Africa’s most effective bowler was Dwaine Pretorius, took the key wicket of Warner with the help of a diving catch by Chris Morris at mid-on and finished with 2/27 from six overs.

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