Bavuma’s 113 helps propel home team to 206-run win
Temba Bavuma may be slight in stature and minimal on talk. When he lets his bat do the talking, which was the case at Willowmoore Park, his runs speak volumes. His 123-ball 113 underpinned South Africa’s lopsided 206-run win over Ireland after the hosts tallied up an impressive 354/5 in their 50 overs.
Ireland could only muster 148 runs in 30.5 overs as the spin duo of Aaron Phangiso (2/33) and JP Duminy (4/16) applied the brakes impressively.
The fact that Duminy’s serviceable offspinners collected easy wickets was an indication of the gulf between the sides.
While the total itself looked easy enough, South Africa’s fast start allowed the middle order to put their feet up and have a platform to work with.
The signs were already ominous for Ireland when debutant Bavuma and Quinton de Kock motored to 69/0 in the first 10 overs.
Whatever advantage Ireland thought they had by winning the toss and bowling first evaporated in the early morning heat.
Bavuma and De Kock, former team mates at the Highveld Lions before the latter moved up the N1 to the Titans, complemented each other very well.
While they matched each other pound for pound when it came to boundary hitting, it was their liberal use of the single that did not allow Ireland to exert any sort of pressure.
De Kock should have converted his seventh ODI fifty into his 11th century but had to settle for a 66-ball 82 after he chopped on a Kevin O’Brien slower ball in the 24th over.
Their 159-run opening association was a ground record, breaking the 158 Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs put together back in 2002.
With eyes firmly set on the diminutive Bavuma, the impressive batting moved along swimmingly after receiving lives on six and 63 to register his ton off 111 balls with 12 fours and one six.
When he holed out to Stuart Poynter at point off Craig Young, there was a feeling he had given his innings away, especially with the customary middle-order mini collapse that is associated with the Proteas.
Faf du Plessis (21) and David Miller (16) missed out on easy runs before Duminy and Farhaan Behardien plundered 87 runs in 6.4 overs. The latter raced to a 22-ball fifty (3×4, 3×6) while Duminy’s 43-ball effort was a more sedate one.
The late over pummelling knocked the stuffing out of the hosts and only O’Brien (40) and the chunky Paul Stirling (41) offered any meaningful resistance.
Only three other batsmen passed 10 as the Irish accelerated their demise by swiping across the line to the spinners on a surface that slowed by the hour.
A 350-plus chase was never going to be easy and when Ireland lost captain William Porterfield second ball to Kagiso Rabada, the writing was on the wall.
A partnership of substance never developed even though Stirling and O’Brien found time to muscle 11 boundaries between them in their respective innings.
The highest stand was the 36-run partnership between Stirling and O’Brien.
However, that stand only took root after Gary Wilson gifted Dwaine Pretorius his first ODI wicket when he feathered through to De Kock to leave the Irish stranded at 41/3 after 10 overs. There was never going to be a way back from there.