JOHANNESBURG: South African captain Faf du Plessis overcame a thumb injury to hit an aggressive century and set up a 142-run win over Australia in the second one-day international at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.
Du Plessis made 111 as South Africa piled up 361 for six wickets after being sent in to bat. Australia made a bad start and were bowled out for 219 in reply, leaving them 2-0 down in a five-match series.
Du Plessis praised his team for what he described as “almost a perfect batting and bowling performance.
The batsmen laid the basics well and the bowlers were exceptional”.
He singled out opening bowlers Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada, who both claimed an early wicket and put Australia’s batting under immediate pressure.
Australian captain Steve Smith said he felt South Africa’s total was only 20 or 30 runs above par, given the history of the Wanderers pitch.
“But if you are chasing that sort of target you need a good start and you need things to go your way. Every game’s a must-win for us now,” Smith said.
Du Plessis was struck on the left thumb by a throw from Aaron Finch as he raced through for a quick single to score his first run. He immediately went down clutching the thumb and required lengthy treatment on the field before resuming his innings.
The injury did not stop him playing some powerful drives as he went to his half-century off 42 balls. He reached his sixth one-day international century off 84 deliveries with 13 fours. He was eventually caught on the boundary after facing 93 balls, without adding to his boundary tally.
“Luckily I don’t use that thumb on my bat,” he said.
On a field renowned for high scoring, a run riot seemed in prospect when Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw made 41 runs off the first five overs, bowled by international newcomers Chris Tremain and Joe Mennie.
But the bowlers came back reasonably well in ideal batting conditions, conceding only 107 runs off the next 20 overs before Du Plessis and JP Duminy lifted the scoring rate in a third wicket stand of 150 off 111 balls.
Duminy hit 82 off 58 balls with 10 fours and three sixes.
Australia were soon in trouble in reply, with Steyn and Rabada building up good pace.
Finch top-edged a catch to square leg off Rabada in the second over and Smith fell to Steyn, with De Kock taking a brilliant diving catch when the Australian skipper glanced the ball to leg.
David Warner kept Australia’s hopes alive until he was fifth out for a relatively restrained 50, pulling off-spinner Duminy to midwicket.
Travis Head made a maiden international half-century and put on 59 for the sixth wicket with Matthew Wade before Rabada came back to dismiss Head leg before wicket for 51.
Tremain and Mennie replaced Scott Boland and Daniel Worrall after De Kock mauled the Australian bowlers in hitting 178 as South Africa chased down a target of 295 in the first match in Centurion on Friday.
There was no repeat from De Kock, however. He made 22 off 24 balls before he was caught at mid-on off John Hastings. Rossouw, who faced most of the bowling in an opening partnership of 70, went on to score 75 off 81 balls, with 10 fours.
It was a second successive half-century by Rossouw, who kept his place in an unchanged team despite regular one-day opener Hashim Amla having recovered from illness which kept him out of Friday’s match.