South Africa defeated Australia on Wednesday to secure their first series victory in over 12 months, and they will be determined to keep that run going and make it a clean sweep.
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South Africa coach Mark Boucher masterminded his first series win in charge as his team completed the highest-ever successful run chase in Bloemfontein against Australia.
It wasn’t the quickest batting track ever laid, but Australia won the toss and captain Aaron Finch decided to have a bat.
David Warner was the first wicket to fall as he was dismissed for 35 when Janneman Malan caught him off the bowling of Lungi Ngidi – his first of six wickets.
Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschange both went cheaply as the Aussies were reduced to 81-3. Finch and D’Arcy Short kept the run rate ticking over as they both hit 69 before falling to Anrich Nortje and Tabraiz Shamsi respectively.
Mitchell Marsh and Alex Carey tried to improve Australia’s total with 36 and 21 respectively, but they were skittled out with the final ball of the innings for 271. Ngidi ended the innings with amazing figures of 6-58 off 10 overs.
It wasn’t the biggest run chase ever, but it would be the highest ever at Bloemfontein and Malan was in the mood to redeem himself after he was dismissed with his first ever ball on debut in game one.
Malan carried his bat for the whole innings as he hit 129 not out off 139 deliveries, finding the boundary on 11 occasions with seven fours and four sixes. There were doubts over Malan as an opener after the first game, but he has strengthened his care with this sublime century.
Victory for South Africa looked a long way away when Quinton de Kock was clean bowled by Mitchell Starc with just the third ball of the innings. JJ Smuts then came to the crease and hit 41 off 64 balls to help get them back on course.
After Smuts was dismissed by Adam Zampa, Malan still had some back up as Henrich Klaasen helped the run chase on with 51 from 52 deliveries with three fours and one six, while David Miller joined the party with a quickfire 37 as the Proteas claimed the series with nine balls left to go.
Boucher stood for no nonsense when he was a player, and it looks like he is doing the same as a coach. I like the way South Africa have battled away in this series, so I’m going for them to make it three wins in succession.
Malan really announced himself on the big stage with his unbeaten century, and he is capable of getting the big numbers once again. He will be backed up by the likes of De Kock and Smuts, but once again it will be the bowlers who are the key to victory.
Ngidi was on fire in the second game, taking six wickets, but we are expecting a massive response from Nortje and I’m backing the 26-year-old fast bowler to take the most wickets for the hosts.