SPEARHEADED by Faf du Plessis’ century and his 151-run partnership with Rassie van der Dussen, the Standard Bank Proteas finally produced a complete performance with bat, ball and in the field to beat Australia by 10 runs in their final match at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup at Old Trafford, Manchester, on Saturday.
In what was the 100th ODI between the two countries the two teams produced a suitably memorable match which leaves both teams having won 48 encounters with three matches ending in ties and one no result.
It was also the Proteas eighth victory over Australia in the last nine encounters between the two countries and only South Africa’s second victory over Australia at a World Cup, the other one having come in South Africa’s first ever match at a World Cup at Sydney in 1992.
Du Plessis was named man of the match for his century (100 off 94 balls, 7 fours and 2 sixes) and for his overall leadership qualities although the award could equally have gone to David Warner for his century (122 off 117 balls, 15 fours and 2 sixes).
It was Du Plessis’ fifth century against Australia against whom he has an average well in excess of 50 and his 12th overall. He also became the seventh Protea to complete 1 000 ODI runs against Australia.
There were good supporting acts for both sides by Van der Dussen who made a career best 95 (97 balls, 4 fours and 4 sixes) and Alex Carey for Australia (85 off 69 balls, 11 fours and a six).
Kagiso Rabada finally came out on top of the South African bowling attack (3/56) which included two critical wickets in his last over when Australia were still threatening to make a successful chase.
Other key contributions to the South African victory were the opening stand between Aiden Markram and Quinton de Kock which enabled the Proteas to post easily their best total in the opening power play of 73 runs – it was also the fourth highest of the tournament – and a big improvement in the quality of the fielding with De Kock and Markram again playing key roles as did Chris Morris.
The outcome of this match is that India top the final log and will play New Zealand in the one semi-final and Australia take on England in the other.