The Proteas have gone 4-0 up in the series after a comfortable six-wicket victory against Australia at St George’s Park on Sunday.
The last time Australia lost four matches in a row was in 2012, and now the Proteas have a fantastic opportunity to complete their first whitewash against their opponents. It also now means that they will be guaranteed No 2 in the ICC ODI rankings.
While Australia’s poor bowling efforts throughout the series have made it easy for the Proteas to pick off their opponents, it was the batting that went missing this time, in large part thanks to some excellent bowling from South Africa’s makeshift attack.
No fewer than three bowlers came into the side to play their first match of the series, and between them they took nine wickets, proving that there’s some decent depth to their bowling resources. Kyle Abbott took 4-40 while Tabraiz Shamsi bagged career-best figures of 3-36. Aaron Phangiso did a good job of cleaning up the tail with 2-17. All of this without Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir.
With the series already lost, Aussie skipper Steve Smith won the toss and chose to bat first. SuperSport pundit Damien Fleming thought 330 was going to be the minimum total. They made another bowling change to their lineup, with Scott Boland coming in for Daniel Worrall, doing little to the confidence of the new cap.
Abbott came in firing from the word go, bowling Aaron Finch (2), before doing the exact same to David Warner (6). Dwaine Pretorius then got in on the act to trap George Bailey lbw for one to leave the visitors reeling on 12-3. Depleted side or not, these are the type of players you expect to see step up.
The only resistance came in the form of Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade, who both struck half-centuries. The rest struggled to deal with the likes of Shamsi and Phangiso in the middle overs. Skipper Faf du Plessis rotated his bowlers excellently, and the re-introduction of Phangiso proved an excellent choice as he ensured partnerships down the order struggled to settle.
Boland was the final wicket to fall, thanks to a clever review behind the stumps from Quinton de Kock. They were bowled out for 167.
Hashim Amla, who blitzed 45 in the third ODI, fell early as he was beaten for pace, trapped lbw by Chris Tremain for four. De Kock, the leading run-scorer in the tournament by some distance, didn’t want to hang around and that proved his downfall, finding the fielder in the deep for 18.
Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy knuckled down from there, looking to accumulate rather than plunder the boundaries. They produced a 56-run stand off 13.3 overs, before Duminy hit one straight to mid-on for 25.
Then came the stand that took the sting out of the chase. Du Plessis, who was dropped in embarrassing fashion by Adam Zampa on 16, battled on and notched up a half-century, with Rilee Rossouw holding firm at the other end.
Faf fell for 69, leaving birthday boys Rossouw (33) and Farhaan Behardien (12) to peel off the remaining runs and cross the line with 14.3 overs remaining.
A visibly frustrated and angry Australian unit will have to regroup to try and salvage a consolation victory when the sides clash for the fifth and final time in Cape Town on Wednesday.
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