Proteas captain Temba Bavuma scored a defiant century as his team were bowled out for 222 in the first ODI against Australia in Bloemfontein on Thursday.
Bavuma opened the batting and made an unbeaten 114 while his teammates crumbled against accurate bowling on a slow, dry pitch with uneven bounce.
Josh Hazlewood set the tone with the new ball, allowing only one scoring stroke in his first three overs.
With the World Cup less than a month away, three key South African batsmen returned to the team but Quinton de Kock (11), Heinrich Klaasen (14) and David Miller (nought) were unable to make an impact.
Marco Jansen, batting at No 7, made 32 and helped Bavuma add 57 for the sixth wicket.
Mitchell Marsh, captaining Australia for the first time in an ODI, rotated his bowlers in short spells and the Proteas struggled to build any momentum before Bavuma went on the attack during a last-wicket stand of 37 with Lungi Ngidi, who was last man out without scoring.
Bavuma was dropped on two when Ashton Agar put down a diving chance at backward point off Sean Abbott.
He survived again on 88, with Ngidi at the wicket, when he top-edged a slog against leg-spinner Adam Zampa and wicketkeeper Alex Carey spilled a straightforward chance.
Two overs later, Bavuma hit Zampa for six and four to raise his fifth ODI century.
Fortune favours the brave! 🌟
Temba Bavuma scores a century as South Africa ends their innings on 222 🇿🇦
— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) September 7, 2023
He finished with 14 fours and a six off 142 balls despite struggling with cramp towards the end of the innings.
© Agence France-Presse