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ICC World Cup: South Africa beat Australia by 134 runs in Lucknow

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In ICC World Cup cricket, South Africa achieved an emphatic victory by 134 runs over Australia in the 10th league match at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow last night. Put into bat first, South Africa posted a total of 311 for the loss of 7 wickets in the stipulated 50 overs.

Quinton de Kock was the star of the match, scoring his consecutive century of the World Cup. In reply, the entire Australian batting line up crumbled against the deadly pace attack of South Africa at the score of 177. 

A clinical all-round performance from South Africa has seen them register a whopping 134-run win over Australia in Lucknow on Thursday (October 12). Having posted a competitive total of 311, on the back of Quinton de Kock’s second ton in a row, the Proteas virtually sealed the game in the first Powerplay itself with the wickets of Mitchell Marsh, David Warner and Steve Smith. Without a doubt, Australia were on the mat at 70/6 and if not for a 69-run partnership between Marnus Labuschagne and Mitchell Starc, the margin of defeat would have been worse. It was a performance of utmost dominance from South Africa as they outplayed Australia in all facets of the game.

Having opted to bowl, Australia would have hoped for the pitch to ease out under lights with dew expected to come later on. Unfortunately for them, the new ball nibbled around a lot more than during the afternoon and South Africa’s quicks took full toll of it. Marco Jansen and Lungi Ngidi started off brilliantly, getting the ball to talk appreciably, thereby choking the run flow in the first Powerplay. The pressure told on Marsh as he miscued one against Jansen and Warner fell soon, slapping a cut straight to backward point off Ngidi. The onus was squarely on Smith who started off in ominous fashion with four delectable boundaries.

However, then came the most debatable moment of the Australian innings. Coming in as the first change bowler, Kagiso Rabada had Smith LBW after the Australian had missed a rare flick stroke after the trademark shuffle across the sticks. It looked not out in real time but ball tracking had it hitting leg stump, putting Smith in shock. Even the South African players couldn’t believe their luck and with that breakthrough, Australia seemed rattled completely. Rabada was breathing fire in his first spell and bowled a peach to nip out Josh Inglis who capped a forgettable day in the middle both with bat and gloves.

As if the extravagant movement wasn’t hard enough, there was also a lot of spin on offer and it made Australia’s task near impossible. Glenn Maxwell offered a simple return catch to Keshav Maharaj while Marcus Stoinis became another of Rabada’s victims, albeit in controversial fashion. It was a short ball down leg-side that went off the glove. A clear spike was shown on UltraEdge but whether Stoinis’ top and bottom hand were both connected to the bat was up for debate. The visuals weren’t conclusive enough but third umpire Richard Kettleborough felt he had seen enough to give the marching orders. Not for the first time, Australia were displeased. At 70/6, it was about damage control now.

Labuschagne and Starc hung around, as the surface eased out and soon, dew set in as well to make batting easier. Australia, though, had no batting left to make a match of the game despite the drastic improvement in conditions. South Africa’s bowlers all had a field day, making use of the conditions and scoreboard pressure to dent the Aussies. The total of 311 looked par at the halfway mark and in hindsight, it was probably slightly above par. South Africa’s innings was set up by Quinton de Kock’s second successive World Cup ton and a fluent fifty from Aiden Markram.

Both batters didn’t produce the same carnage that the did in Delhi against Sri Lanka but that was largely due to the conditions on offer here in Lucknow. A relaid surface with red soil meant that the track played much better than in the IPL games but it was still on the slower side. There was variable bounce and the slower balls were tougher to score, particularly once the ball got older. Australia were slow to read the memo and got their radar all wrong for a major part of the innings. They also failed to utilize the movement that was on offer with the new ball.

De Kock capitalized on all these follies and his century stand with Temba Bavuma set the platform for South Africa to get to a competitive score. The former did lose steam through the innings but Markram’s brilliance ensured that the tempo wasn’t lost during the middle overs. Towards the back end, Australia got their lines, lengths and pace variations spot on, thereby staging a decent fightback at the death. However, a flurry of dropped catches through the innings meant that they ended up conceding at least 30 runs more than they should have. In the end, the target proved far too many for the five-time champions.

Brief scores: South Africa 311/7 in 50 overs (Quinton de Kock 109, Aiden Markram 56; Glenn Maxwell 2-34, Mitchell Starc 2-53) beat Australia 177 in 40.5 overs (Marnus Labuschagne 46; Kagiso Rabada 3-33, Keshav Maharaj 2-30, Tabraiz Shamsi 2-38) by 134 runs

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