JP Duminy announced his return to international cricket in the most emphatic way possible by hitting a career-best 150 not out to lead the Proteas to an easy 84-run victory over the Netherlands in their one-off ODI on Friday.
JP Duminy announced his return to international cricket in the most emphatic way possible by hitting a career-best 150 not out to lead the Proteas to an easy 84-run victory over the Netherlands in their one-off ODI at the VRA Ground, Amstelveen, on Friday.
It was Duminy's first game of cricket of any kind in seven months following the serious ankle injury he suffered during the first Test match against Australia back in November last year but he belied that fact as he led his side to a cantering 341/3 in their 50 overs.
They then restricted their hosts to 257/9 in their turn at bat.
Duminy's innings (119 balls, 5 fours and 8 sixes) was the seventh time that a Proteas batsman had scored 150 or more and, as far as can be ascertained, this was the first occasion that South Africa has had back-to-back 150-run partnerships. It was also the second highest score for South Africa against the Netherlands with only Andrew Hudson (161 at the 1996 World Cup) doing better.
It must have come as a huge relief for the Proteas' brains trust to see Duminy in such good form and also to see other top-order batsmen who have not had any cricket of late doing well. This applied to Colin Ingram who filled the Jacques Kallis vacancy at No. 3 to make 82 for 106 balls (7 fours and a six) and Faf du Plessis (an unbeaten 62 off 43 balls, 2 fours and 5 sixes).
After the early loss of both Alviro Petersen and Hashim Amla (38/2 in 8 overs) after AB de Villiers had won the toss, Ingram and Duminy put on 151 for the third wicket off 126 balls and Duminy and Du Plessis a further unbeaten 152 for the fourth off 79 deliveries.
During this latter partnership the pair added 119 in the last six overs for an overall partnership strike rate of 11.54 runs per over! Duminy, having reached his third ODI century in magnificent style with a huge six to midwicket, scored the final 50 of his innings off only 16 deliveries when he hit five of his eight sixes. He and Du Plessis were averaging two sixes to the over at the death.
For good measure Duminy also picked up a wicket in his five overs. As pleased as the team management must have been with Duminy's batting, they must have been equally pleased with the bowling of both him and Farhaan Behardien. Between them they took 3/57 in 13 overs.
With Britain experiencing a decidedly wintry summer so far the pitches are certain to be slow and, if these two can get through a full quota of overs between them in such good shape, it will open the way for the Proteas to play seven specialist batsmen.
It was this lack of balance that affected the Proteas in their two home ODI series against New Zealand and Pakistan the past summer.
If the Proteas batting was first-class there is still a lot of work needed by the bowlers to get rid of the rust. Robbie Peterson's four wickets came at a cost of more than seven to the over while Ryan McLaren was also on the expensive side. On a positive note all the bowlers showed steady improvement and there is nothing that hard work will not put right.
Lonwabo Tsotsobe was the pick of the specialist bowlers, conceding only 33 runs in 9 overs.
It was nevertheless disappointing that the Netherlands were not bowled out inside their 50 overs.
Vanderbijlpark-born Eric Szwarczynski led the Netherlands reply, making a career-best 98 (116 balls, 11 fours) before being run out in the unluckiest of fashions by a Behardien deflection on to the stumps at the non-striker's wicket.
The Proteas had no selection issues, resting Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and David Miller, who had all had busy IPL campaigns, in addition to Aaron Phangiso. Not surprisingly, De Villiers opted not to bat himself as he has also had plenty of IPL action.
<b>Netherlands:</b> Stephan Myburgh, Eric Szwarczynski, Wesley Barresi, Tom Cooper, Daan van Bunge, Peter Borren, Tom de Grooth, Mudassar Bukhari, Pieter Seelaar, Paul van Meekeren, Ahsan Malik.
<b>South Africa:</b> Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Colin Ingram, Faf du Plessis, Farhaan Behardien, Robin Peterson, Ryan McLaren, Rory Kleinveldt, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
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