Super-sub Labuschagne scripts thrilling victory for Australia

Super-sub Labuschagne scripts thrilling victory for Australia

Sydney, Australia. 19th Nov, 2022. 19th November 2022; Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, NSW, Australia; 2nd One Day International Cricket Australia versus England; Marnus Labuschagne of Australia celebrates scoring his half century Credit: Action Plus Spor

Australia scripted a thrilling victory in the first ODI against South Africa in Bloemfontein thanks to a match-saving half-century from Marnus Labuschagne in the run chase. Coming in as a concussion substitute for Cameron Green, Labuschagne rescued Australia from 113/7 chasing 223, putting on a century stand with Ashton Agar to trump Temba Bavuma’s superlative one man show in the first innings for the Proteas.

The South African skipper produced a sensational solo effort, scoring his third ODI century in six matches and adding more than half his side’s runs to lead the hosts to a combative total on a sluggish surface at the Mangaung Oval. The opener had to dig in after a slow start that saw the hosts add just 25 runs in the powerplay to go along with the wicket of Quinton de Kock.

To make matters worse, Rassie van der Dussen was run out cheaply, while Markram, Klaasen, and Miller departed in quick succession, leaving South Africa reeling at 100/5 at the halfway mark. Marco Jansen offered some resistance to put on a half-century stand with the opener but was castled by Josh Hazlewood for 32.

Bavuma was on 64 when Jansen departed but would go on to add 50 more runs alongside the tail-enders to usher South Africa to a competitive score. The skipper farmed the strike expertly and even added 37 runs for the final wicket alongside Lungi Ngidi, carrying his bat through the innings to lift the Proteas to 222.

In reply, Australia lost David Warner off the second ball of the chase, with the opener chopping one on against Jansen. Mitchell Marsh and Travis Head followed that up with a flurry of boundaries, but South Africa hit back through Kagiso Rabada, who had the number three nicking off before striking Cameron Green on his helmet with a bouncer, forcing the all-rounder to leave the field.

Rabada also removed Josh Inglis, while Travis Head skied one off Lungi Ngidi for 33. Matters went from bad to worse for the visitors when Gerald Coetzee knocked over Alex Carey and Marcus Stoinis, and Keshav Maharaj cleaned up Sean Abbott, leaving them reeling at 113/7.

However, just as the game seemed to be slipping away, Marnus Labuschagne produced a special innings to salvage the situation for Australia. Replacing Cameron Green as a concussion substitute, Labuschagne weathered the storm with Ashton Agar, with the pair constantly rotating the strike to keep the scoreboard ticking.

They also punished the poor balls for boundaries and took Australia over the line with ten overs to spare, finishing with a 112-run stand for the eighth wicket to give the visitors a 1-0 lead in the series.