- Janneman Malan and Quinton de Kock were key to South Africa's success in the 2nd ODI against India on Friday.
- The pair put on 132 for the opening stand.
- Malan said De Kock as "one of the best batters in the world".
Janneman Malan barely put a foot wrong in his expertly crafted knock of 91 (108) in the series-clinching 2nd ODI against India at Boland Park on Friday, but the man-of-the-match honours went to his opening batting partner, Quinton de Kock (78 of 66).
It is not often in cricket that the player who scores less scoops a team-mate on that front, which was a testament to just how well De Kock batted.
It was the perfect partnership to launch South Africa's pursuit of 288 in the scorching Paarl heat, and by the time they were done, South Africa had amassed 132 runs in just 22 overs.
Both players fell short of what would have been two superb centuries, but all that matters is that the Proteas got over the line, winning by 7 wickets and with 11 balls to spare.
That is enough to give them an unassailable 2-0 series lead with Sunday's 3rd ODI at Newlands to come, and while the off-field issues and uncertainty surrounding the future of head coach Mark Boucher remain, there have been clear indications that the Proteas are in the middle of a significant resurgence.
A big part of that, over the two ODIs at least, has been their improved batting.
On Wednesday, both Rassie van der Dussen (129*) and Temba Bavuma (110) carded centuries, while on Friday, it was the turn of the South African openers Malan and De Kock to dazzle.
While Malan grew in class and shot-making as his innings progressed, De Kock gave a timely reminder of his devastating ability and why he remains such a valuable asset to South African cricket even after his Test retirement.
"Quinton made it easy for me at the start," said Malan after the match.
"I just tried to give him as much strike as possible because I just wanted to let him go do his thing. He played a couple of ridiculous shots, which are good signs.
"He is one of the best batters in the world when he gets going, so it was good to bat with him."
The ability of the Proteas batters to combine in partnerships of significance, Malan added, was also a factor in their successes in this series.
"We were happy to have two hundreds in the previous game, and maybe we could have had me or Quinny getting to a hundred here, but I'm very proud of the partnerships we had," said Malan.
"We had a hundred partnership and two 50 partnerships, which means the batters are coming in with good plans and good intent and building nice partnerships to make it easier for each other."
There was also a welcome return to runs for the under-pressure Aiden Markram, who endured a torrid time in the Tests before running himself out cheaply in the first ODI.
Markram (37*) and Rassie van der Dussen (37*) combined for a 74-run stand on Friday to see South Africa home and extinguish any chance India had at a comeback.
"I'm happy for Aiden for showing what he can do. He had a nice, positive mindset and he's got all the talent in the world. I'm just happy for the batting unit," said Malan.
The third and final ODI at Newlands starts at 10:30 on Sunday.