TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
SA will reel off a hattrick of wins against Australia? Without the injured AB de Villiers? With Russell Domingo, a coach who, apparently, doesn’t know what he’s doing? Yeah, right.
Next they’ll tell us Donald Trump is being taken seriously as a presidential candidate.
But that’s just how SA’s one-day series against the Aussies is panning out.
Having won at Centurion on Friday and at the Wanderers on Sunday, the home side put the series trophy in the cabinet with an epic victory at Kingsmead on Wednesday.
Australia’s 371/6 was the fifth-highest total racked up by the Australians in their 886 matches in the format, and the fifth-highest made against SA in their 562 ODIs.
It was also the biggest innings in the 43 ODIs played in Durban.
Until, that is, SA replied with 372/6.
“To win a game like that when you’re supposed to lose, down and out, and you have someone put their hand up and take you across the line, is as good as it gets,” SA captain Faf du Plessis said.
That someone was David Miller, who came to the crease with reliable support dwindling and with SA needing 193 off 158 balls.
“I thought 320 on this deck would have been par,” Du Plessis said. “So we took the confidence that this deck was really good, and that we needed to stay ahead of the rate at all times. That’s one thing we did really well right through the innings.
“But we made a few errors and I thought we could have made the job a lot easier and not need an incredible, ridiculous innings like that from Dave.”
Miller overcame a groin problem along with the pressure to hammer an undefeated 118 off 79 balls, the first time he has reached 50 in 17 completed ODI innings.
So often consigned to the wings by the match situation, and dropped for SA’s series against England last season, Miller took centre stage to play an innings of breathtaking poise, purpose and power.
“I’m so happy for David, not just to win the game but also to get a hundred,” Du Plessis said.
“It’s not that he always gets the opportunity to get a hundred and he did that and finished the game.”
Miller flipped that thought around: “It was a special moment to bring the team home, being there at the end and not only getting the hundred.”
But there would have been no disagreement about the bigger picture.
“I’m out of words about how happy I am,” Du Plessis said. “I never thought 3-0 would have been possible against this Australian side.
“It’s such a special occasion that I just want to take my thinking hat off until we play them again (at St George’s Park on Sunday) and really enjoy the moment of winning a series against Australia.
“This is a special occasion for us as a team and for SA.”
Miller batted through three partnerships, the biggest of them the 107 he shared with Andile Phehlukwayo to clinch the match.
Phehlukwayo, playing in only his fourth ODI, smacked 42 not out off 39 balls.
“He started off slowly and he was really nervous,” Miller said. “I said to him, ‘breathe, count to three and let’s just bat. If we bat 50 overs we’ll win the game’.”
That Miller and Phehlukwayo duly did, getting SA home with four balls to spare.
Nervous or not, Phehlukwayo played some of the most emphatic strokes in the game and ended it by reverse sweeping leg spinner Adam Zampa through third man for four.
And to think he might have been out to the first ball he faced, which would have reduced SA to 277/7 in the 39th over.
Chris Tremain’s delivery whistled past Phehlukwayo’s bat, and up went the Aussies …
“The guys behind the wicket thought they heard a noise,” Australian captain Steve Smith said.
“I was at cover; I didn’t hear anything. But the guys thought there was something there.”
Phehlukwayo knew he hadn’t hit the ball.
“He was convinced he hit his pad,” Miller said. “No batsman walks if he thinks he hit his pad.”
Maybe Donald Trump would.