South Africa 416 for 5 (Klaasen 174, Miller 82*) beat Australia 252 (Carey 99, Ngidi 4-51) by 164 runs
Heinrich Klaasen klapped Australia’s bowlers around his home ground in a breathtaking display of power-hitting, which no adjective in English could properly describe. Klap is the Afrikaans word for slap but it is best understood as an onomatopoeic word. Say it out loud and the crack of your tongue on your palette will tell you what it sounded like every time Klaasen made contact with the ball.
He hit 13 for four and another 13 for six and took South Africa from 120 for 2 at the halfway stage to 416 after 50 overs – the highest at SuperSport Park and South Africa’s second-highest against Australia. It proved more than enough to level the series at 2-all and set up a winner-takes-all finale on Sunday, which will be South Africa’s last competitive match before the World Cup. They’ll be fairly satisfied with how they are shaping up.
After losing five successive matches to Australia – three T20Is and two ODIs – South Africa have surged back with consecutive and comfortable wins thanks to their batters. At SuperSport Park, it was Klaasen and David Miller who grabbed headlines. They shared in a 222-run fifth-wicket partnership and scored their runs at 14.47 to the over, the fastest for any stand of 200-plus. They scored 173 runs in the last 10 overs, the most in an ODI.
Australia could not match any of those numbers. Alex Carey’s 77-ball 99 was their best individual effort and they only had one partnership over fifty – the 72 between Carey and Tim David for the fifth wicket. By then, they were well out of the contest after being stunned in the field earlier.
While Australia did a good job of keeping South Africa’s scoring rate under five runs an over in the first half of their innings, they unravelled spectacularly in the second half. Josh Hazlewood and Adam Zampa finished with their most expensive figures in ODIs – 2 for 79 and 0 for 113 respectively, with Zampa’s also the joint-most expensive by an Australia in ODIs. He shares the record with Mick Lewis, who was also put to the sword by South Africa, in the 438 vs 434 game of 2006. Marcus Stoinis gave away only 22 runs in his first seven overs and 59 in his next three, and Nathan Ellis conceded 37 runs in his first seven overs and 42 in his last three. Only Michael Neser came away without much bruising. In just his third ODI, and his first since 2018, he bagged 1 for 59.
South Africa’s new opening pair of Reeza Hendricks, playing in place of the injured captain Temba Bavuma, and Quinton de Kock were circumspect upfront and ended a solid powerplay on 44 without loss. It took a magical delivery from Nathan Ellis to separate them when he got one to land on a perfect length, shape away, beat Hendricks’ edge and find off stump. Rassie van der Dussen kept things moving with three fours off a Zampa over but when de Kock tried to up the ante, he got a leading edge off a Hazlewood delivery and Mitchell Marsh took a well-judged catch at mid-on.
Aiden Markram hit locally-born Neser to Stoinis at cover just after the innings’ halfway mark which gave Klaasen a decent chunk of time to bat and his first run-scoring shot suggested he was in a hurry. He slashed Neser and bottom-edged through backward point. Then he rode the bounce and hit Neser through the covers to score the last boundary for 28 balls. That period set Klaasen up for what was to come later on.
After van der Dussen was dismissed, Klaasen was joined by David Miller, who announced himself almost immediately, when he hit Zampa over long-on for six. Klaasen’s fifty came in the next over, off the 38th ball he faced and he used only 19 more deliveries to get to his third ODI hundred and second this year. It came after he smashed Stoinis for three massive sixes. Klaasen jumped and whooped in celebration, while his wife Sonè and nine-month-old daughter Laya applauded him from the hospitality suites.
The big hits kept coming and Miller was content in a supporting role. He contributed 38 runs to the century stand, had 52 once the partnership reached 150 and was responsible for 74 in the 200. It’s unusual to speak of an innings of 82 off 45 balls as a footnote, but that’s what Miller’s was. Ultimately, Klaasen was in a class of his own and no batter, from his own team or the opposition, could match him.
Australia needed to attack from the get-go and David Warner’s intent was clear. He tried to take on width from Ngidi but cut to Miller at cover point. Ngidi tightened his lines and hit Mitchell Marsh on the pad in his next over. Marsh was given out lbw and reviewed but ball-tracking showed it was clipping leg stump. Australia were 22 for 2 in the fifth over.
Two overs later, Head was hit on the hand by a Gerald Coetzee short ball and initially opted to continue. He faced three more balls but when he tried to swing at another Coetzee ball, he realised he was unable to and retired hurt. He was taken for scans while the rest of the Australian line-up tried to score at almost nine runs an over to close out the series. South Africa continued to lean heavily on the short ball and succeeded in how they used it. Marnus Labuschagne gloved Marco Jansen down the leg side and Stonis gloved Rabada to de Kock and, at 113 for 4 inside 16 overs, the rest seemed academic.
Most of it was but when Ngidi delivered a slower ball to Ellis who chipped it in the air in the vicinity of Rabada at mid-on, there was another moment of magic. Rabada ran backwards and went for the catch one-handed and the ball stuck. That was Ngidi’s fourth wicket and best return of the series and though he wanted a fifth, he left the field with suspected cramp. Rabada finished off Australia, including forcing Carey to glove a ball as he tried to get to his second ODI century and fell one short.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s correspondent for South Africa and women’s cricket