We take a look at the top five moments in the Proteas’ record-equalling 12-match win streak.
Bavuma debut – ODI vs Ireland
Remember this? That is how long ago South Africa’s streak started. A one-off ODI against Ireland in Benoni, perhaps meaningless at surface value, set the tone for the next five months. Bavuma was handed his ODI debut in an experimental role at the top of the order, and he took his opportunity handsomely. He became the second South African ever to strike a ton on ODI debut after Colin Ingram achieved the feat in 2010, and he became the first black African to score an ODI century. The Proteas, who also handed debuts to Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius, won by a massive 206 runs.
De Kock special – 1st ODI vs Australia
If there was any indication that the Proteas were beginning to show signs of a return to form, it was in the series opener against Australia in Centurion. The Australians carried an undercooked bowling lineup over to South African shores, and they were made to pay in brutal fashion. What was supposed to be a competitive chase of 295, De Kock obliterated it with 14 overs still in the bank. The young wicketkeeper-batsman scored his 11th ODI century, and none have been more emphatic, blasting 11 sixes and 16 fours on his way to a career-best, and Centurion-best, 178 off 113 balls. The Aussies never recovered from that onslaught.
Miller & Phehlukwayo – 3rd ODI vs Australia
This was special for an infinite number of reasons. It was the unearthing of a future star, it was the return to form of one of the most dangerous batsmen on the planet, and it sealed the series with two matches to play. Phehlukwayo’s fast-tracking to the senior side was met with a certain amount of cynicism, but he showed he has the temperament at the highest level, with a composed display under lights at Kingsmead. The Proteas looked down and out, still needing over 100 runs with just over 12 overs to spare and with four wickets in hand. David Miller, eager to make a point after being dropped for the Tri-Nation series, let fly with a scintillating 118 off 79 balls. Phehlukwayo smashed 42 off 39, and the result was a 107-run stand to see their side home with four balls remaining.
Tahir discipline – 1st ODI vs Sri Lanka
And what about the bowlers? The batsmen dragged the bowlers out of trouble on more occasions than not throughout the 12 games, but without the consistent work of Imran Tahir, perhaps the outcomes could have been different. ‘He doesn’t bowl bad balls anymore’, was the response from AB de Villiers after Tahir took figures of 3-26 in the first ODI against Sri Lanka from his 10 overs. If there was any fault in Tahir’s game, it was that he would bowl the occasional bad ball, but he’s seemingly eradicated that now, and followed up De Villiers’ words with 2-26 from nine overs in the 2nd ODI, despite the Sri Lankans needing well over six an over. He may not have got an IPL contract, but his efforts soared him to the No 1 ODI bowling ranking in the world.
Faf the record-breaker – 4th ODI vs Sri Lanka
Du Plessis was already in the form of his life going into this match. With the series wrapped up, but the winning streak still going strong, the Proteas continued to be merciless in the fourth match in Cape Town. An already battered Sri Lankan lineup were forced to feel the wrath of Du Plessis, who fell four runs short of Gary Kirsten’s all-time record of 189. But his 185 was the second-best ever in the green and gold, as well as being the highest score at Newlands as the Proteas amassed the highest-ever total at the ground.
Superb centuries from Hashim Amla and De Kock followed in the fifth to wrap up back-to-back series whitewashes, before consecutive four-wicket hauls from Chris Morris stretched the record to 12 with victory in the opening ODI against New Zealand.