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South Africa decimate Australia in Tri-series Final

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Faf du Plessis and Dale Steyn provided the individual highlights as South Africa scored a conclusive six-wicket victory over Australia in the Final of the Triangular ODI Series at Harare on Saturday.

This result puts the Proteas level on 113 rankings points with India but the latter retain the No. 1 spot when the calculation is made to the third decimal point. Sri Lanka and Australia are also level on points with Sri Lanka holding third place and Australia fourth.

Du Plessis finished on 96 (99 balls, 8 fours and a six) and would almost certainly have achieved a world record four centuries in an ODI Series had he not thrown his wicket away attempting to hit a boundary off Mitchell Johnson when the scores were tied.

He nevertheless emulated the performance of Hashim Amla in the West Indies in 2010 of scoring more than 400 runs in a five-match series.

Steyn broke the back of Australia’s attempt to set a challenging total when he exploited reverse swing for the first time in the series to claim the key wickets of Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell (off successive deliveries) and Brad Haddin to reduce Australia to 137/6.

He finished with figures of 4/34 in his 10 overs to be named Man of the Match.

It was a happy day for both Steyn and Du Plessis with the latter being named Man of the Series for scoring three centuries and a 96 in his five innings.

Australia did manage to counter-attack with a ninth-wicket stand of 71 between James Faulkner and Mitchell Starc but their total of 217/9 never looked like being enough to challenge the Proteas.

Their only chance was to make rapid inroads but successive partnerships of 98 for the second wicket between Du Plessis and Hashim Amla (51 off 75 balls, 2 fours) and 91 for the fourth between Du Plessis and AB de Villiers (57 not out, 41 balls, 7 fours and 2 sixes) ruled that out of the question.

It was a significant win for the Proteas as it came in an official Final and showed that the squad is growing in confidence in getting across the line when it counts. It was a clinical performance in all three disciplines with the fielding being the best it has been for some time.

This stopped the Australian innings from gaining momentum as the Proteas sent down more than 150 dot balls in the 50 overs.

The five-man Proteas attack performed perfectly as a unit with no need being necessary from their sixth bowler. With JP Duminy playing through a injury this was not without significance.

Beating Australia by six wickets with 55 balls to spare is no mean achievement.

The Proteas’ next assignment will be the away series in New Zealand (ODIs) and Australia (ODIs and T20s) in October and November.

Mini Scorecard:

Australia 217/9 (50 overs, 4.34rpo)

A Finch 54 (87) D Steyn 4-34 (10)

South Africa 221/4 (40.5 overs, 5.41rpo)

F du Plessis 96 (99) S Smith 1-9 (2)

South Africa win by 6 wickets