- Proteas batsman Rassie van der Dussen was relieved to have scored his first international century.
- His 123* was important to SA's eventual total of 273/6, but they lost the first ODI against Pakistan by three wickets.
- SA pulled the game back very well after a big partnership between Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam, but Pakistan had enough in the tank to win the game off the last ball.
Proteas middle order batsman Rassie van der Dussen said he was overwhelmed by a massive sense of relief in getting to his maiden ODI hundred on Friday.
While it did not result in a win as Pakistan needed their full 50 overs and seven wickets to haul in SA’s 273/6, Van Der Dussen’s 123* in the opening match of the series at SuperSport Park was his first international ton in 48 matches across all formats.
Going into the game, he had seven ODI 50s with a highest of 95 against Australia with an average of just over 70.
That average in the 17 innings he has batted has now shot up to 83.00 and he has entrenched himself as a critical cog in SA’s batting line-up.
His value was apparent from how he scratchily constructed his innings from the early troubles of 41/2 and 55/4.
“It is a relief. I have been playing for two and a half years now. I’ve had a few chances to close out a hundred and didn’t quite get there. It was a case of performing under pressure and we were under pressure. It was a fair innings to get us to a decent total,” Van der Dussen said.
While Van der Dussen withstood everything that was thrown at him, he had the misfortune of not being able to catch a Shadab Khan skier at a critical moment in Pakistan's run chase.
If he’d latched onto the tough chance, it would have put Pakistan under more pressure in a final over that was excellently bowled by Andile Phehlukwayo.
While the missed chance didn’t sully Van der Dussen’s fine batting display, he was hard on himself and said he would have loved to have made the winning fielding contribution.
“It was a game of half margins and looking back, it was a half chance. It could have gone our way if I’d got under the ball a little earlier. I didn’t get in a good position to catch it and I barely got a fingertip to the ball,” Van Der Dussen said.
“In situations like that one, 100 overs can come down to one ball and it's not cruel. It's just sport. It's life. As a professional sportsman, you have to be ready for that moment and on another day, it could have gone straight to the fielder. It wasn’t our day.”
With South Africa slipping to 41/2 and 55/4, the vagaries of batting first at SuperSport Park were again showed up.
Where SA and Van der Dussen struggled to get going until well into the day, Babar Azam (103) and Imam-ul-Haq (70) put together a 177-run second-wicket stand that became the foundation for Pakistan’s win despite the late Anrich Nortje-induced collapse and the tight death bowling.
Van der Dussen said it was disappointing that the bowlers couldn’t win the game as they fought hard to get them back in the game.
“The toss plays a big role in day games here and the pitch gets much better to bat on as the day progresses. When Imam and Babar batted, they made it look quite easy. The pitch became more true and consistent, but the credit must go to the bowlers,” Van der Dussen said.
“It was quite disappointing for us not to get over the line because I feel like the bowlers deserved it.”