Australia: 254-7 (50 overs)
Marnus Labuschagne 108 (108), D'Arcy Short 36 (44); Anrich Nortje 2/35
South Africa: 258-4 (45.3 overs)
JJ Smuts 84(98), Heinrich Klassen 68(63); Josh Hazlewood 2/37
For live cricket scores and commentary click here
South Africa completed a historic 3-0 ODI whitewash over Australia by beating them by six wickets in the third ODI. The stars of the show were JJ Smuts and Heinrich Klassen whose brilliant batting overshadowed Marnus Labuschagne's maiden ODI hundred.
Chasing 255 to win, openers Janneman Malan and Quinton de Kock gave a decent start of 47 runs to the Proteas. However, Australia then had their tails up as they sent both the openers packing in quick succession and the hosts had two new batsmen at the crease. JJ Smuts and Kyle Verreynne absorbed all the pressure from the Australian bowlers and then played their natural game once they got their eye in.
Smuts added 96 runs with Verreynne and then 79 runs with Heinrich Klassen. Half-centuries from all the three batsmen ensured that South Africa reached the target with six wickets in hand and more than four overs to spare.
Earlier, South Africa put the visitors in to bat and bowled great lines and lengths. In no time, Australia had their top three of David Warner, Aaron Finch and Steve Smith all back in the hut and were in danger of getting rolled over quickly. But Marnus Labuschagne stepped up and formed important partnerships with D'Arcy Short of 81 runs and then with Mitchell Marsh of 53 runs and scored his maiden ODI hundred. His efforts meant that Australia reached 254-7 in their 50 overs and now had something to defend.
Labuschagne's maiden ODI ton
With Warner, Finch and Smith all back in the hut and the team reeling at 55-3, times were tough for Australia as the Proteas quicks had their tails up. Labuschagne, however, absorbed all the initial pressure and kept the scoreboard ticking.
He kept on taking singles and doubles by finding the gaps and scored the odd boundary that would keep things rolling. He was ably supported by Short and Marsh and these two partnerships helped Australia cross the 250 mark, something which did not look possible at one stage early on in the inning.
Labuschagne batted brilliantly with the Australian tail and brought up his maiden ODI hundred. He scored a run-a-ball 108 which included eight fours. It was Labuschagne's brilliant batting and composure that gave the Australian bowlers at least some sort of a target to defend.
JJ Smuts, Heinrich Klassen steal the show
Both the South African openers de Kock and Malan got off to starts but could not quite convert it as both departed early on. After absorbing the initial onslaught from the Aussie quicks, Smuts started to counter-attack and find boundaries. He was ably supported by Verreynne who himself scored an impressive half-century.
But it was Klassen who completely tilted the game in South Africa's favour. After Verreynne's wicket, Klassen made sure that South Africa did not lose momentum and added vital 79 runs along with Smuts. While Smuts lost his wicket for a well made 84 off 98 balls which included 12 fours, Klassen remained unbeaten at the end on 68 off just 63 balls which had 10 fours and a six in it.
South Africa comfortably chased down the target, outplaying Australia in all three departments and completed a series whitewash.
Smuts' inning was crucial in South Africa setting up the chase and then winning the game and thus he was adjudged as the player of the match. After having a brilliant series in which he got his maiden ODI ton, Klassen received the player of the series award.
These were Smuts' thoughts after the game -
This has been a real team performance. Our bowlers were outstanding today morning. For our bowlers to restrict them to 250 odd was exceptional performance. We stuck to our plans that we spoke. They (openers) laid the platform for us, it was quite easy as the required rate didn't cross 5. It's an outstanding achievement for us, but we are a growing side and we need to keep our feet on the ground.
These were Klassen's thoughts after the game -
It's been a fantastic couple of weeks for me. Very pleased that I contributed to the team. I had to change my mindset a little bit. I put a lot of pressure on myself on my first part of international cricket. Now I just bat freely and that seems to work. Hopefully I continue. A couple of injuries at the wrong time didn't help. Hopefully I can cement my place in the one-day side. You can't take runs for granted. Everytime you wake up, you have to push yourself to the next level. I've played a couple of series there (India), looking forward to that contest.Published 07 Mar 2020, 23:40 IST