Temba Bavuma became the 12th player of all time to score a century on ODI debut, as the Proteas thrashed Ireland by 206 runs in Benoni on Sunday.
The victory was even more dominant than their one against the Irish in the World Cup last year, as their 201-run victory back then secured the record as the first side to score 400-plus in successive games.
Time will tell as to whether this match was beneficial to their upcoming five-match series against Australia, but it certainly was a confidence-booster for a number of players, including the likes of JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien, who scored much-needed half-centuries.
The star of the show however was undoubtedly Temba Bavuma, who became the second South African to score a century on debut after Colin Ingram achieved the feat against Zimbabwe in 2010, and his 113 was the sixth-highest score ever on debut. He also became the first black African to score an ODI century for the Proteas.
Bavuma was handed a lifeline on one when he was dropped in the slips, but got over the jitters to produce a fluent, classy display, hitting 13 fours and a six for his 123-ball 113. It might well give Russell Domingo a bit of a selection headache for future ODI series, as he wasn’t selected for the Aus series.
He was one of three debutants alongside Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius, who bowled tidy spells and will hope for more action against the world champions.
Bavuma and Quinton de Kock put on a record-breaking stand after the Proteas were sent into bat. Their 157-run stand broke Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith’s 14-year record for an opening stand in Benoni, set against Bangladesh in 2002. It was De Kock who was the first to fall, playing across a straight one to fall for 82.
Stand-in skipper Faf du Plessis battled his way to a 31-ball 21 before Bavuma fell two overs later, but it was Duminy and Behardien who turned a good total into a big one. Their 87-run stand came off just 40 balls as Behardien brought up his fifty off just 21 balls, while Duminy’s 50 was a relief to him, all too evident by the way he celebrated. They settled for 354-5.
Needing over seven an over was always going to be a tall order, but Ireland got off to the worst possible start in response as skipper William Porterfield departed lbw second ball to Kagiso Rabada.
Regular wickets fell and it was largely the tourists’ own fault, giving the deep fielders plenty of catching practice. The Proteas opted to bowl short regularly and it was a ploy which paid off. Wayne Parnell forced a top-edge out of John Anderson, before Pretorius took his first international wicket as Gary Wilson gloved a short one to De Kock.
Paul Sterling and Kevin O’Brien provided some resistance with a pair of 40s, but they too gave in to scoreboard pressure. It was the spinners to do the damage towards the end as Duminy, a Man of the Match candidate that went to Bavuma, and Aaron Phangiso, took six wickets between them.
Phangiso took 2-33 and Duminy cleaned up the tail to end with figures of 4-16, to wrap up the comprehensive victory with 19 overs to spare.
Ireland will look to bounce back against Australia on Tuesday, before the five-match series between the Proteas and Australia, starting on Friday.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images