Australia have lost 5-0 for the first time in an ODI series, after the Proteas beat them by 31 runs at Newlands.
There’s been 4-1 defeats and 4-0 defeats for Australia before, but never have the tourists been handed a beating quite to this extent, and depleted side or not, it’s an achievement which the Proteas can cherish.
The South Africans have outclassed their opponents in all disciplines from start to finish, and not even a David Warner epic in Cape Town could prevent the Australians from defeat for a fifth time.
Not only did this series nudge the Proteas up to No 2 in the world rankings, but they proved their batting depth with stellar middle-order performances from the likes of Rilee Rossouw, they showed they have willing reinforcements in the bowling department thanks to Kyle Abbott and Tabraiz Shamsi, and there is an exciting young talent to look forward to in the form of Andile Phehlukwayo.
Australia came here with a second-string bowling attack, but they were fully stocked in the batting department, and the Proteas themselves missed up to as many as eight first-choice players throughout the series. No excuses there, Australia.
It will hurt the tourists, it will scar Steve Smith’s credibility as captain, and it will add some spice to the three-match Test series Down Under in November.
It was a shaky batting display at first from the hosts as they lost three quick wickets, but the stroke play and positivity continued regardless. Rossouw and JP Duminy manufactured a 178-run stand, with the latter scoring an excellent 73. Rossouw’s knock was a masterclass, and it will be very difficult to leave him out of the side from here on. His 122 was his third ODI century, and both his fifty and century came off a run a ball.
Joe Mennie stepped up for the Australians with 3-43, but the rest of Australia’s limited bowling supplies, as they have done throughout the series, struggled, as David Miller blasted a 29-ball 39 to see the hosts to 327-8 – the third-highest ODI score at Newlands.
Australia began well in response as they sought the highest successful run-chase at Newlands by a considerable distance – SA’s 258-7 against New Zealand back in 2000. Warner scored the majority of the runs alongside Aaron Finch as they strode to 72 inside 14 overs.
A couple of catches were dropped in that partnership, one sharp chance from Quinton de Kock and an easier one from Dale Steyn on the boundary, both off Kyle Abbott’s bowling. The introduction of Imran Tahir settled the nerves, as he bowled Finch for 19, and two balls later he had Smith, as one kept straight.
Phehlukwayo, the highest wicket-taker of the series, then forced George Bailey to chop one on for two, and suddenly the Proteas were in the driving seat. Warner battled on with Mitchell Marsh and Travis Head playing useful supporting roles, but they both fell for 35 as the hosts continued to chip away.
Warner brought up a ninth ODI century, and he converted that into 150 with partners running out around him. It suddenly became anyone’s to play for and tempers flared as Tahir uncharacteristically lost his cool with Warner for verbals that were exchanged, causing plenty more expletives all the way through his spell.
He was creeping up on his career-best 178 from last year’s World Cup, but the pressure told as he fell short, literally and figuratively, as he was run out for 173. The man to run him out? Tahir.
That spelt the end of the contest with another run out to Scott Boland signing off a thrilling series, if you’re a Proteas fan of course. A 31-run victory, and a 5-0 whitewash. Expect a backlash in white clothing next month, as the sides do battle in the three-Test series Down Under.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images