Cape Town – The feast looks pretty sumptuous already, thanks
in no small measure to Quinton de Kock.
Spice it with a certain Hashim Amla, if suitably off the
sick list, and Australia could be facing further Highveld angst in Johannesburg
on Sunday (10:00 start).
The Proteas blitzed their way to a six-wicket victory over
the tourists with as many as 13.4 overs to spare in the first of five one-day
internationals at SuperSport Park on Friday, rekindling memories, at least to
some extent, of their free-scoring chase exploits in the immortal “438” game 10
Speaking of that unforgettable day, the Wanderers is exactly
where the caravan heads next for the second fixture, with little time for
reflection by either side on what transpired in Centurion.
With De Kock to the fore, South Africa chased down their
target of 295 with jaw-dropping ease – and that despite the very rare absence
of both their long-serving batsmen who average 50-plus in the format, regular
captain AB de Villiers and Amla.
De Villiers sits out the series, but the latter will
hopefully return to the mix after being side-lined by a virus on Friday.
In his absence, Rilee Rossouw muscled the ball around
himself with great authority as De Kock’s opening partner, as the pair posted
145 runs in little more than 18 overs to get the freight train more than just
Booming driver Rossouw will warrant a slot a little lower
down if Amla does reoccupy his customary own berth at the front on Sunday (probably
endangering one of David Miller or Farhaan Behardien) and it would be an
ominous sign to the just-pummelled Aussie attack, given that the SA crease
line-up then boasts even greater collective strike power on paper than
evidenced in game one.
There seems good reason to tip De Kock, meanwhile, to get
stuck in all over again after his violent personal best innings of 178 off 113
balls, eclipsing Herschelle Gibbs’ 175 as a record SA landmark on home turf.
He has shown before a desire not to step off the pedal after
one glorious knock, including the memorable period against India in 2013 when
he nailed three centuries in a row – including ones at both Centurion and
Showing the sort of constructive arrogance, if you like,
that marked the approach of such legends of batting as Brian Lara, Viv Richards
or SA’s own Barry Richards, De Kock was especially masterful on the hook and
pull on Friday night, keeping people on the grass banks busy either scurrying
for cover or attempting to claim spectator “catches” with a beer in the other
“He’s hardly mistimed a shot, right from the get-go …
normally you would go through little periods even in a big innings when (it
happens),” said SuperSport guest commentator and former Australian captain
Allan Border admiringly of the 23-year-old’s devastating efforts.
The Proteas have certainly made a forceful early statement
of their series intentions, even if the Aussie batting arsenal, in particular,
naturally still gives the No 1-ranked side a realistic chance of clawing
themselves back into the picture – though they are under pressure now to level
matters at the Bullring.
If SuperSport Park evidence from their notably second-string
seam attack – a solid handful of superior, more menacing pacemen have been left
at home – is anything to go by, Australia are going to struggle over the next
couple of weeks to contain the SA stroke-players unless there is pronounced
movement off the seam or through the air on offer.
What they sorely lack is variety: the group on show on
Friday all somehow seemed “right-arm over, medium-fast” with no alternative angles
or strategies and also unable to present at least one customer threatening
proper menace in the bodily-harm department.
Considering that he is a tad short of express pace himself,
the discomfort suffered by the Aussie fast bowlers only put into glowing counter-perspective
the cerebral, calm earlier showing of raw Proteas seamer Andile Phehlukwayo.
The sturdy-boned 20-year-old, recording figures in just his
second ODI of 10-1-44-4, found probing lengths – unlike several of his far more
experienced colleagues – and varied his pace superbly; the speed gun showed
that he operated in a pleasingly wide range between 85 and 137km/h.
The analysis was particularly exemplary on a prime occasion
for batting when you consider that his first over saw him walloped – once
unceremoniously back over his head – for 16 by Aaron Finch. So he ticked a box
for stout temperament as well.
Certainly the gnarly Border admitted he liked what he saw:
“(That performance) will do his confidence as a newcomer the power of good.
With tighter technique, maybe he will also find more pace.”
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