First up, congratulations to both sides for an absolutely wonderful Test Series.
A depleted South Africa have proved too good for Australia, cruising to a 74-run victory in the one-day international series opener in Paarl.
Australia have wilted under the South African heat, losing the one-day international series opener by 74 runs amid smoke from a nearby bushfire in Paarl.
Chasing 292 to defeat a depleted Proteas side missing Kagiso Rabada, Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen, the tourists were in reasonable shape at 3-174 before collapsing to be all out for 217 with 29 balls remaining.
Steve Smith (76) and Marnus Labuschagne (41), playing for the first time in his birth nation, each made good starts but as was the case in Australia’s T20 series victory over South Africa, the middle order was found wanting.
None of Mitch Marsh (16), Alex Carey (5) or D’Arcy Short (18), who was stumped well out of his crease while trying to charge at a delivery from left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, were able to handle the responsibility of rescuing Australia’s chase.
Much of the credit will rightly go to Shamsi (2-45) and fellow tweaker Keshav Maharaj (1-48), who suffocated Australia’s batsmen in the middle overs.
Paceman Lungi Ngidi (3-30) did the damage earlier, dismissing openers Aaron Finch (ten) and David Warner (25).
The day-night match was played in the shadow of a bushfire that has been burning for several days in the nearby Du Toitskloof mountain range.
Australia’s bowlers found it tough going in hot and windy conditions exacerbated by smoke from the blaze, while flames were visible on the mountain when night fell.
“It was very smoky out there,” Finch said.
“It probably hit us a little bit towards the back end of that innings, a lot of guys coughing and not feeling great now. But it’s no excuse at all.
“We were just outplayed.”
Finch added that a number of Australian players had been unwell in the lead-up to the game but stressed that it was no excuse for a “sloppy” fielding performance.
The tourists were in control early when South Africa collapsed to 3-48 after Quinton de Kock won the toss and elected to bat.
But the Proteas recovered admirably to finish 7-291, piloted by an assured Heinrich Klaasen (123 not out) who posted his first international century.
Klaasen combined with power-hitter David Miller (64 off 70 balls) to take the wind out of Australia’s sails with a 149-run fifth-wicket partnership.
Mitchell Starc had delivered a dream start when he trapped newcomer Janneman Malan lbw off the first ball of the innings, Australia correctly reviewing the initial not-out call.
Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins then combined to extinguish fluent starts from danger men de Kock and Temba Bavuma (26), who was dropped in the deep by Starc before dragging a Cummins delivery onto his stumps.
Cummins (3-45) was the pick of Australia’s bowlers, and his dismissal of debutant Kyle Verreynne (48) made him the sixth-fastest Australian to 100 ODI wickets.
Australia’s marquee paceman also delivered a brilliant direct hit to run out tailender Andile Phehlukwayo.