SA vs AUS: De Kock’s ton and potent attack sink Aussies

South Africa well served by Markram’s fifty and Rabada’s triple strike too; Cummins’ men’s chase of a competitive 312 comes unstuck as they suffer a second loss in two games

October 12, 2023 02:16 pm | Updated October 13, 2023 05:07 am IST - Lucknow

South Africa celebrates the wicket of Australia’s Mitchell Starc during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 match between the two teams at BRSABVE Cricket Stadium on October 12, 2023 in Lucknow, India.

South Africa celebrates the wicket of Australia’s Mitchell Starc during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 match between the two teams at BRSABVE Cricket Stadium on October 12, 2023 in Lucknow, India. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Australia skipper Pat Cummins had said on match eve that both teams were ‘very similar’, but there were few parallels between them on Thursday as South Africa mauled the five-champion by 134 runs in a World Cup match at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium here.

With the pitch at the venue being re-laid recently, the contest was a dive into the unknown for both sides, but the Aussies seemed to be thrown at the deeper end of it as their batting wilted against pace and spin on a wicket that saw the Proteas put up another compelling show with the bat, led by opener Quinton de Kock (109, 106b, 8x4, 5x6).

Steve Smith and Marcus Stoinis fell to questionable decisions by the third umpire on review while the others failed to cobble together partnerships to steer the 312-run chase. Smith was stunned to see the ball-tracking system show the ball was hitting leg-stump while Stoinis felt he had gloved the ball when his hand was off the bat handle.

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Smith had reasons to be disappointed after he had reeled off two consecutive fours off Kagiso Rabada with his trademark shuffle following the dismissals of openers David Warner and Mitchell Marsh, who were too early into their shots.

Marnus Labuschagne (46, 74b, 3x4) and Mitchell Starc, joining hands at 70 for six, stood at the burning deck to delay the inevitable sinking of the ship.

Meanwhile, the sparse crowd fell into a stifled silence, with the occasional cheers gradually sounding like groans after de Kock and Aiden Markram (56, 44b, 7x4, 1x6) had given them much to rave about earlier.

Inserted, South Africa was off to a watchful start which included de Kock’s and Temba Bavuma’s nervy play and misses, as Starc swung the ball both ways. In the fifth over, de Kock responded to the public address system’s plea for more crowd energy with a flicked six off a length ball. The left-hander sprayed the arc from square to fine-leg with four more sixes during his innings and laced the off-side with late cuts and square-drives early on.

He showcased his range by sweeping and then reverse-sweeping Adam Zampa for consecutive fours before fatally attempting a cheeky reverse pull off Glenn Maxwell whose bowling was the silver lining to Australia’s scrappy day on the field that was summed up by five dropped catches.

While Australia’s pacers, Starc in particular, did well to wrest the initiative at the death by pitching it short and bowling the slower ones, South Africa had enough on the board.

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