Spectacular innings seals deal for Proteas
When there is cricket at Kingsmead, it often tends to veer towards the spectacular and it was fitting that hometown hero David Miller signed, sealed and delivered South Africa’s first ODI series win against Australia in seven years.
Chasing a daunting 372, Miller (118* off 79) combined with Andile Phehlukwayo (42*off 39) for a 74-ball seventh-wicket stand of 104 to pull off the second-highest successful run chase ever with some ease.
Four balls left when chasing 350-plus has to be considered a cake-walk in South Africa’s first ODI win against Australia at Kingsmead in six attempts.
The highest ODI run chases are owned by South Africa and both have come against Australia in South Africa, 10 years and some months apart.
Miller’s 79-ball knock was the fastest at the ground, eclipsing Adam Gilchrist’s 97-ball 100 in an eight-wicket win for Australia in 2001-02.
It was a significant knock for the finisher, especially in the light of the logjam developing in South Africa’s middle order, with Rilee Rossouw and JP Duminy in excellent form while AB de Villiers convalesces from elbow surgery.
It probably helped Miller’s cause that Duminy (20) and Rossouw (18) wasted their starts when they gifted their wickets to John Hastings and Adam Zampa respectively.
Miller’s hand would not have been possible if it were not for Hashim Amla (45) and Quinton de Kock (70). While the openers strung together a quick 66-run opening partnership in eight overs, Amla’s nine boundaries in 30 balls allowed the hosts to keep the run chase in check in the event of regular wickets falling.
When De Kock found his stride, his 50 came off 36 balls, with five fours and a six, before his 49-ball innings ended when he picked out Daniel Worrall at fine leg off Chris Tremain.
Faf du Plessis’s (32) hot streak fizzled when he rammed a rank Travis Head long hop to David Warner at deep midwicket, but there was life in this Proteas side that refused to be quelled.
When Dwaine Pretorius fell, the stage was set for Phehlukwayo and Miller to etch their place in South African cricketing folklore.
It denied Steven Smith (108) and David Warner (117) the glory after the top-order pair essayed contrasting centuries of the highest quality.
While the captain’s knock was all about deft placement despite his nine fours and lone six, Warner muscled the bowlers around with his 13 fours and two sixes.
Their effectiveness took its toll on the fast bowlers, with Dale Steyn (2/96) and Kagiso Rabada (1/86) bearing the brunt of the onslaught.
However, that was only the beginning of the bowling massacre.