DURBAN: David Miller thumped 118 not out from No 6 to take South Africa to the second-highest successful run chase in one-day international cricket and a series win over Australia on Wednesday. On his home ground, Miller blasted his 118 from just 79 balls, with 10 fours and six sixes, as South Africa made 372-6, overtaking Australia’s 371-6 with four balls of the last over to spare. Miller’s third ODI century – surely his best – gave South Africa an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-game series, and gave the Proteas their first ODI series win over Australia in seven years. He did it while hobbling with a groin injury for much of the latter part of his innings. “It’s a special one,” Miller said of his match-winning knock.
“You don’t get those ones too often.” Miller and South Africa completely overshadowed an impressive batting effort from top-ranked Australia after the tourists, desperate to stay alive in the series, opted to bat first. Opener David Warner made 117, captain Steve Smith added 108, and Australia posted the highest ODI total at Kingsmead. That record lasted just a few hours. South Africa’s victory revived memories of the game between the two countries in 2006, when Australia made 434 and South Africa chased that down for what’s still by some way the highest run chase to win an ODI.
On Wednesday, Australia slipped to a third straight loss on the tour, this time by four wickets but possibly the most painful considering the situation. “We posted 370, which is a pretty good score,” Australia captain Smith said. “You don’t lose too many games scoring 370. We’ve just got to keep learning and trying to find a way to win.” Facing an imposing target, openers Quinton de Kock (70) and Hashim Amla (45) gave South Africa its early momentum, but the home team was teetering having lost six wickets when Miller took control.
The big-hitting left-hander had crucial support from Andile Phehlukwayo, the fast bowler playing just his fourth one-day international and who hit a career-best 42 not out to carry South Africa home alongside Miller. South Africa stayed with or near the required run rate for much of its chase, but when Miller and Phehlukwayo came together they still needed 107 runs off 74 balls. Phehlukwayo got away with one when he appeared to edge behind early in his knock. Umpire Adrian Holdstock said not out and Australia didn’t have any decision referrals left.
Miller crunched a four to backward square leg to get to his century, and Phehlukwayo attacked anything he could, hitting four fours and two sixes. He hit a looping reverse sweep to win the game and the series, causing raucous celebrations in the South African dressing room. “I would rank that up there as the best win I’ve been involved in,” South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said. — AP