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Marnus piles more misery onto Proteas

Stuart Hess Sports reporter
Marnus Labuschagne's second ODI century, helped put Australia to a 2-0 lead in the Betway One-Day International series against South Africa on Saturday.
Marnus Labuschagne's second ODI century, helped put Australia to a 2-0 lead in the Betway One-Day International series against South Africa on Saturday.
Image: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Hundreds from Dave Warner and Marnus Labuschagne along with a four wicket haul for leg-spinner Adam Zampa, saw Australia claim a comfortable 123-run victory in the second Betway One-Day International against South Africa in Bloemfontein on Saturday. 

The Australians were able to take advantage of another poor performance from the home side’s bowlers who offered up a surfeit of short and wide deliveries mixed with lots of half-volleys allowing the Australians to get off to a flyer. 

By the end of the first Power Play, openers David Warner and Travis Head had amassed 102 runs, with 88 of those coming in boundaries. Head was the aggressor in a stand which eventually totalled 109, in which he scored 64 runs off just 36 balls.

It was strange seeing Warner take the back seat, but while his scoring wasn’t as quick as Head’s he was still needed only 52 balls to get to his fifty. 

Australia’s scoring slowed with Head’s and then Mitchell Marsh’s dismissals off consecutive deliveries to Tabraiz Shamsi, but the control those wickets provided didn’t last long. Shamsi may look back on his verbal exchange with Marnus Labuschagne as an error, as it appeared to focus the Queenslander’s attention. 

Having not been a part of the squad initially, and then only being called up as a replacement for the injured Steve Smith, Labuschagne still didn’t expect to play much of a role in this series. Cameron Green’s concussion in the first match, saw Labuschagne make a match-winning unbeaten 80 on Thursday, a performance which he bettered on Saturday. 

While Warner gradually increased his scoring rate, Labuschagne’s sledging with Shamsi, quickly got his competitive juices flowing too. He relished taking on the left-arm wrist-spinner, hitting a few delightful straight drives, a lofted cover drive and then a reverse sweep, to force Shamsi out of the attack. 

With the SA seam attack, which Saturday contained Andile Phehlukwayo who was brought into the squad as cover for the still recovering Sisanda Magala, floundering, Warner and Labuschagne, who was dropped by De Kock on two off Phehlukwayo, made hay, sharing a stand of 151 for the third wicket, which briefly had Australia eyeing up a total in excess of 400. 

Warner registered his 20th ODI century — his fifth against the Proteas — off only 85 balls, with the second fifty taking only 33 balls. South Africa looked flat, but their spirits were lifted when Phehlukwayo snuck one through Warner’s defence, bowling him for 109. Warner made it appear that the ball had kept low, but it was probably a case of him needing to be on the front foot, which cost him his wicket. 

Labuschagne, with his parents and other members of his extended family watching, completed a second ODI century — both having come in South Africa — and probably sent a message the way of the Australian selectors in the process. He admitted to making a few technical changes to the way he bats, but also explained during a TV interview after the Australian innings, that a more aggressive mindset was probably the major reason for his success at the start of this series. “I’m looking to hit more boundaries sooner, rather than just try and get set through scoring singles,” he told SuperSport. 

His innings ended after a fine catch on the midwicket boundary by Aiden Markram, and while it was Shamsi who claimed the wicket, the fact that Labuschagne had scored 124 off 99 balls made it clear who’d won their particular battle. 

The Proteas fought back well at the ‘death’ picking up five wickets, but Australia’s final total made theirs the happier dressing room at the break. Shamsi with 4/61 was by far the best of the Proteas bowlers, while the seamers all struggled and it is clear lots of work awaits them in the coming weeks. 

The Proteas got off to an explosive start with Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock sharing an opening partnership of 81 in just nine overs. De Kock, who became the seventh SA batter to reach 6000 ODI runs, launched a stunning assault against debutant Aaron Hardie depositing a pair of sixes over the midwicket fence in his first over. 

However, like Shamsi did for South Africa, so leg-sp[inner Adam Zampa turned the match decisively Australia’s way. After De Kock was superbly caught by Nathan Ellis off his own bowling for a 30-ball 45, Zampa had Bavuma trapped lbw for 46, Markam caught on the long off fence by Sean Abbott, and then bowled the dangerous Heinrich Klaasen for 49. 

Zampa finished with 4/48.

The teams head to Potchefstroom, where South Africa have to win on Tuesday to keep the series alive.