by: Atika Mehboob TN Sports Pakistan:
In a bid to keep a low profile at the 2023 World Cup, South Africa unleashed a thunderous statement that demanded attention. They left no room for doubt as they dominated Australia in Lucknow, securing a commanding victory by a whopping 134 runs in their second consecutive triumph.
The narrative, as often is the case, was orchestrated by Quinton de Kock. He dazzled at the top of the order, smashing a magnificent 109 runs, propelling South Africa to an imposing total of 311 for 7. This was especially remarkable as South Africa had been asked to bat first. Australia’s strategic reshuffling of their batting order, with Josh Inglis and Marcus Stoinis coming in for Alex Carey and Cameron Green, proved futile.
Their lackluster performance with the ball, coupled with costly errors in the field, set the tone for their disastrous chase, with their innings crumbling at a meager 70 for 6 by the 18th over. With two successive defeats, Australia now faced a dire situation, with little margin for error in the remaining seven league stage matches.
While it’s widely known that this tournament marks Quinton de Kock’s farewell to the ODI format, it’s worth acknowledging his brilliance on evenings like this. At 30 years old, he’s bidding adieu to ODI cricket at the pinnacle of his abilities. Following a remarkable century in the opening match against Sri Lanka, he continued to shine with a stylish century, taking 91 deliveries to reach the milestone in this thrilling encounter.
His 13 boundaries, including five powerful sixes, were a testament to his class and his ability to dominate even the most seasoned white-ball bowlers. This 19th ODI century underscored his status as a modern-day legend in limited-overs cricket and served as a resounding declaration that South Africa was unswervingly pursuing their first global title.
Despite their disappointing performance, Australia had reason to question two contentious decisions that went against them. First, there was the LBW decision that saw Steven Smith given out after the on-field ruling was overturned through DRS, even though it appeared that the ball might have been missing the leg stump.
A more debated decision followed, involving Marcus Stoinis, who was dismissed for a leg-side catch. The television umpire, Richard Kettleborough, suggested that Stoinis’ bottom hand had touched the ball, contrary to what was evident from the front-on view. Kagiso Rabada profited from both decisions, finishing with commendable figures of 3 for 33.
However, Australia’s introspection should focus on their own errors, particularly in the field, where they squandered seven opportunities during the first innings. Temba Bavuma found himself on the right side of three of these chances. It all began with a top-edge on 15, where Adam Zampa at deep third couldn’t hold on.
Next, an edge off the leg spinner went begging when Bavuma was on 19. Luck was on his side once more when, on 31, a relay catch on the midwicket boundary couldn’t be completed as substitute fielder Sean Abbott’s overarm toss soared over Mitchell Starc’s head.