Proteas hero Malan credits team-mates after comeback from nightmare debut

David Miller (left) and Janneman Malan (Gallo).
David Miller (left) and Janneman Malan (Gallo).

Janneman Malan, South Africa's hero with the bat in their series-winning run chase against Australia on Wednesday night, has had a rollercoaster start to his ODI career. 

The 23-year-old was superb in Bloemfontein, carding 129* (139) to help the Proteas chase down the 272 they needed for victory.

It was a knock of the highest order with Malan displaying a maturity and calmness throughout, but just a few days earlier he had endured a nightmarish start to his ODI career when he was out lbw to Mitchell Starc for a first ball duck on debut. 

"A few senior guys put their arms around me," Malan told media on Wednesday after his man-of-the-match display, looking back at the days following his debut.

"At this level, it is mostly mental, because all of us can play the game.

"They did their best to help me get over it and help me get in a good space. It's a good squad to be around and everyone is gelling nicely. That definitely made me feel a bit more at ease."

South Africa now have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series heading into the third and final clash in Potchefstroom on Sunday, and while Malan stole the show in Wednesday's run chase, there were other key performances with the bat on the night.

"As a youngster coming in it was motivating to show that we're not a one-man team. The other batters were also driven by that," Malan said, referring to suggestions that skipper Quinton de Kock has been key to any success the South Africans have had this summer.

"There were three vital partnerships in the chase.

"Firstly, with Jon Jon (Smuts, 41) and me and him steadying the ship and then Heinrich (Klaasen, 51) coming in and bringing nice energy to our batting.

"David (Miller, 37*) at the end just batted beautifully and it was a privilege to bat with all of them."

Malan will now surely be given a game in the third ODI, but he says he has not thought about whether he has done enough to force his way into the squad for the upcoming India tour. Cricket South Africa named a 15-man squad for three ODIs in India earlier in the week, but Malan was not included. 

For now, he is just soaking up everything that happened on Wednesday.

"It's most young cricketers' dream to win a game for your country," he said.

"Compliments to everyone batting with me who kept me nice and calm and also to our bowlers for how they performed in the death overs." 

- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard

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