Quinton de Kock’s sensational 178 off 113 balls saw South Africa crush Australia by six wickets in the first One-Day International at Centurion Friday.
De Kock’s knock was the second highest in ODI history for South Africa – behind only Gary Kirsten’s 188 – and he clubbed 16 fours and 11 sixes as South Africa chased down their 295-run target in just 36.2 overs to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Proteas pace bowler Andile Phehlukwayo – playing in only his second ODI – earlier took his first international wicket on the way to a hugely impressive return of 4-44 from his 10 overs.
Precariously placed at 192 for 6 in the 29th over, George Bailey (74) and John Hastings (51) dug Australia out of trouble with a 79-run seventh-wicket stand to lift the visitors’ score, but despite their best efforts, South Africa made light work of the run-chase.
De Kock and Rilee Roussow (63 off 45) smashed 145 runs in the opening 17 overs before the latter fell lbw to Adam Zampa, but De Kock continued to feast on an inexperienced Aussie bowling line-up until finally dismissed 15 runs shy of victory.
Acting South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis – covering for the injured AB de Villiers – opted to bowl first earlier in the day after winning the toss and might have regretted his decision as David Warner (40 off 36) and fellow opener Aaron Finch (33 off 28) got Australia off to a rapid start.
But the visitors were perhaps a little too aggressive for their own good, with Phehlukwayo, who was hit for 16 runs in his first over by Finch, returning to take his wicket, and that of skipper Steve Smith (8), in his second.
Phehlukwayo followed it up with the strike of Mitchell Marsh (31), brilliantly caught behind by a diving De Kock, while Travis Head (18) was stumped off Imran Tahir (1-46), and Matthew Wade (5) run out.
That’s when Bailey and Hastings came together and rescued the innings, with the latter notching a maiden ODI fifty before he ultimately became Phehlukwayo’s fourth victim, caught on the long-off boundary.
Dale Steyn (2-65) then accounted for Bailey with a slower ball, and dismissed Zampa with the first ball of the final over as Australia limped to a finish of 294-9.
De Kock’s staggering effort in reply saw off Australia, who although earned some late consolation wickets through Scott Boland (3-67), never threatened with the ball.