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Proteas batters finally show up in final WC match

Leading from the front was captain Faf du Plessis who struck seven fours and two sixes in his swashbuckling 100.

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis during a match against Australia in the Cricket World Cup 2019. Picture: @cricketworldcup/Twitter.

MANCHESTER - South Africa’s batters have put in their most impressive performance of this Cricket World Cup by posting 325/6, their highest score of the competition, against Australia at Manchester’s Old Trafford.

Leading from the front was captain Faf du Plessis who struck seven fours and two sixes in his swashbuckling 100. It was his third consecutive score over 50 in this campaign which meant he signed off with 387 tournament runs at an average of 64.5. He certainly did his part throughout the campaign.

On Saturday, he was given a solid platform by his openers. Hashim Amla twisted his knee on Friday which meant Quinton de Kock was joined by Aiden Markram at the top of the order.

The pair got off to a roaring start and offered a glimpse of a future union that could define South African cricket for the next four years at least. Cover drives from Markram, late cuts from de Kock, disdainful whacks from both; the Proteas took Micthell Starc (2/59 from 9 overs) and Jason Behrendorff (1/55 from 8 overs) to the cleaners.

Nathan Lyon’s (2/53 from 10 overs) off-spin was introduced in the sixth over and he looked the most likely to end the partnership. He did exactly that in the 12th when a beautifully flighted ball dragged Markram out his crease before straightening and going past the outside edge. Alex Carey completed the stumping behind the stumps and Markram was gone for 34.

De Kock brought up his third 50 of the tournament but was next to go when a looper from Lyon lured de Kock into a lame cross-batted stroke; the subsequent leading edge ballooned to Starc at backward point. De Kock’s expression said it all as he trudged off for 52.

But at 114/2, South Africa had something to work with and du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen (95 off 97 balls) were watchful at first before accelerating later on. Their partnership of 151 off 153 balls showed the world, and the fans back home, just how good these Proteas could be when on song.

Van der Dussen brought up his half-century with a scampered single in the 41st over and then du Plessis reached three figures in the 43rd with a bunt down the ground. The captain would not add to his score as his sliced slog off Behrendorff landed safely in Starc’s hands at short third man.

JP Duminy strode to the middle of an ODI match for 199th and final time in his career. He had seven overs to leave an impression. He chipped in with just 14 before he perished in the pursuit of runs at the death after being well caught by Marcus Stoinis off Starc.

Van der Dussen batted beautifully but would not post a maiden ODI ton, falling just five runs short and holing to cow corner off the final ball of the innings to Pat Cummins (1/66 from 9 overs)

He left the field with his highest ever ODI score, 95 off 97 balls, and ends the tournament with 311 runs at 62.2. A commendable effort in his first World Cup.

South Africa would be pleased with their efforts with the bat but would know that the Australians have the firepower to match them. The pitch looked better and the Proteas would need to produce with the ball to end an otherwise disappointing few weeks on a high note.

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