Bavuma, Van der Dussen card superb centuries to set Proteas up in Paarl

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Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen (Gallo)
Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen (Gallo)

Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen crafted masterful centuries in the first ODI against India in Paarl on Wednesday as the Proteas recovered from a slow start to set the visitors 297 for victory. 

LIVE | Proteas v India - 1st ODI

By the time they were done, the pair had carded 204 runs off 184 balls for the fourth wicket - the highest ever seen in an ODI at this picturesque venue.

Both were innings of the highest class, with skipper Bavuma (110 off 143; 8x4) displaying calm, patience and immense concentration while Van de Dussen (129* off 96; 9x4, 4x6) hit the ground running to get the Proteas going in the right direction after they had won the toss and opted to bat first.  

For both Bavuma and Van der Dussen, this was a second century in ODI cricket, with the former having carded his first ton on debut against Ireland back in 2016. 

A player often criticised for not converting 50s into centuries in Test cricket, Bavuma needed this knock, and it will go a long way towards silencing any doubters who still have question marks over his inclusion and captaincy in this ODI team. 

Van der Dussen, meanwhile, was sublime from start to finish and he, too, has reminded of why he is considered such an important cog in this South African machine.

The 32-year-old was destructive at the back-end of the innings, displaying incredible shot-making all around the ground when the Proteas were looking for as many as possible with wickets in hand.  

The wicket at Boland Park was always expected to be on the slow side, in line with the history of the ground, and both sides fielded two specialist spinners as a result.

With Quinton de Kock and Janneman Malan opening the batting, however, the Proteas had the firepower up top to get off to a fast start. 

That wasn't the case. 

Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar offer the Indians a new-ball pairing that is as good as any in ODI cricket, and they were quickly hitting their areas in the opening stages. There was early reward, too, when Malan (6 off 10) played a nothing shot to Bumrah, dangling his bat outside off to edge through to Rishabh Pant behind the stumps. 

Skipper Bavuma then joined De Kock as the pair looked to settle things down and soak up some pressure. 

South Africa were 39/1 after 10 overs and got through to drinks, but off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin then rushed De Kock with a quicker, flatter delivery that disturbed the timber and had the Proteas 'keeper on his way for 27 (41). 

Aiden Markram's woeful summer then continued.

Batting at No 4 - where some believe he should now operate in the Test side - Markram's stay at the crease was short-lived.

Desperate for runs, the 27-year-old punched a full delivery from Ashwin to mid-off and instinctively set of for the single. It was never on, though, and debutant Venkatesh Iyer was on hand to gather and throw the stumps down for a direct hit. 

Markram was well short, out for 4 (11), and the Proteas were stuttering along and in trouble at 68/3 in the 18th over. 

That brought Van der Dussen to the wicket. 

It is easy to forget the impact South Africa's all-format middle-order batter has had on this ODI side in recent years, and heading into this match he averaged 65 from his 23 innings in the format. 

Van der Dussen was busy immediately and looked in fine touch against spin and pace as he rotated strike and punished the bad balls. 

Bavuma, meanwhile, grew as his innings progressed. 

The skipper has been in wonderful touch for some time now, and he never looked flustered as he and Van der Dussen crafted the Proteas recovery. 

The pair brought up their 50-partnership in half and hour and off just 46 balls. 

After 25 overs, the Proteas were 118/3 and then, after 30, they were 148/3 and well placed to put on a competitive total that looked some way off after Markram had perished. 

Bavuma brought up his third ODI 50 off 76 balls, Van der Dussen marched on to bring up his 10th off 49 balls, and the Lions duo brought up their hundred partnership off 97 balls. 

With David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo and debutant Marco Jansen to come, the hosts would have felt good about their chances of closing strong, but those resources were ultimately not needed.

Bavuma and Van der Dussen's partnership reached 150 off 148 balls and then 200 off 188 balls. 

Bavuma eventually holed out the first ball of the 49th over, picking out long-on, and when he left the Boland Park turf the only disappointment was that there were no spectators in attendance to acknowledge his knock.

David Miller (2* off 2) joined Van der Dussen for the last 11 balls, but there was no time for him to impact matters, and it was instead the set man who put on the fireworks as South Africa ended on 296/4.

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