Rassie van der Dussen’s maiden international ton anchored South Africa’s competitive 273/6 against Pakistan in the first ODI at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday.
SCOREBOARD | Proteas v Pakistan - 1st ODI
Van der Dussen (123*), who came in with South Africa struggling at 41/2 after a Shaheen Shah Afridi (2/61) double blow, was grassed before scoring before bringing up his first hundred in 22 ODIs and 48 international matches overall.
Van der Dussen’s ton came off 129 balls with eight fours and one six in what was an exhibition in pressure transfer.
His alliances with David Miller (50) and Andile Phehlukwayo (29) ensured a defendable target after Temba Bavuma (1) lost the toss in his first game as the men’s national team limited overs captain.
He had to watch a collapse that he was part of, but one that was synonymous with SA’s recent struggles on a pitch that offered early movement, but far from spiteful.
That South Africa slid to 55/4 in the 15th over was a calamity considering SA had a tail that saw Kagiso Rabada (13*) bat at number eight, but one induced by the need to embrace attacking cricket.
There’s nothing wrong with that madness, as it has worked for England. The method is the selective application in conditions that’ll allow for unbridled belligerence.
Afridi was tonked for 29 in his first three overs, but in that same whirlwind, he’d prised out Quinton de Kock (19) and Aiden Markram (20).
Playing in his first game without the leadership badges, De Kock wasn’t his assertive self, and it came as no surprise when he chipped Afridi to Babar Azam at mid-off.
Two balls later and after a six, Markram was surprised by one that got big on him and picked out Faheem Ashraf at mid-on off Afridi.
Bavuma’s four-ball stay didn’t say much about him, especially the nothing shot that he guided straight to Afridi at third man off Mohammed Hasnain (1/52).
Then there was Heinrich Klaasen's 21-ball one that was ODI cricket’s live tooth extraction session. He couldn’t get anything off the square nor in the middle of the bat.
It came as no surprise when he feathered the accurate Ashraf (1/25) to Mohammed Rizwan to expose SA’s rather long tail.
Miller and Van der Dussen, who had a life on 0 when Asif Ali spilt a sharp, but catchable chance off Afridi at second slip in the ninth over, bedded in for a 114-ball 100-run alliance that would have set the stall for perfect late order acceleration if the top order wasn’t waylaid so cheaply.
The knocks were mature with Van der Dussen again embellishing his reputation as SA’s middle-order banker with an 80-ball 50 that weathered the shock start and anchored the innings.
Before Miller edged Haris Rauf (2/72) to Rizwan, he’d also raised a risk-free 52-ball 50, an innings for all intents and purposes, needed to be converted into something bigger.
The upshot is that South Africa were able to rely on their number four and number six to resurrect the innings.
That partnership wasn’t wasted as an excellently restrained and measured Phehlukwayo guided Van der Dussen with a run-a-ball 50-run stand for the sixth wicket that was extended to 64 before Phehlukwayo holed out to Shadab Khan off Rauf.
Van der Dussen finally brought up the magic triple figures with an offside punch off Rauf, from where he opened his shoulders and ensured Pakistan will have to put in a more than reasonable effort to win the game.