South Africa cricket team
South Africa players pose with the series trophy (AFP Photo)

Dominating centuries from David Miller and Faf du Plessis fired South Africa to their first ODI series win on Australian soil in nine years. South Africa restricted Australia to 280/9 after posting 320/9 at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart on Sunday to win the third and final ODI by 40 runs and thus clinch the series 2-1.

The returning Shaun Marsh (106) struck a fighting century and his partnership with allrounder Marcus Stoinis (63), kept the hosts in hunt but the South Africa pacers dashed their hopes. Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada finished with three wickets each while Dwaine Pretorius chipped with two wickets.

For Australia, the chase of a daunting target began ominously with Steyn striking with the very first delivery of the innings, removing Chris Lynn for a duck. Captain Aaron Finch (11) also cheaply and the fall of Travis Head (6) in the 11th over left Australia in trouble.

Marsh, playing in his first match of the series, found support in Stoinis as the pair revived the chase. They added 107 runs for the fourth wicket and were separated when Pretorious removed Stoinis in the 30th over. Marsh then carried the chase forward with Carey as the completed his sixth ODI century. Although Australia still had Glenn Maxwell waiting, they needed Marsh to continue till the end but Pretorious landed the big blow when he had the left-handed batsman caught in the deep with 95 runs still needed to win. Marsh struck seven fours and four sixes during his stay.

Maxwell began positively, hitting the first-ball faced for a four but Steyn returned to land the knockout punch. He first got rid of Carey (42) and then Maxwell (35) before Rabada added two scalps to his kitty in the final over to complete a rather comfortable victory.

Likewise Australia, South Africa also were dealt early blows after being put in to bat. Plessis and Miller joined hands at 55 for 3.

The duo then added a record 252 runs for fourth wicket before both cut loose in the final passage of play, with 130 runs coming in the final 10 overs.

Their record stand is also the highest in Australia-South Africa matches, surpassing the 222-run partnership between Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan way back in the year 2000.

What began as a cautious approach turned a bullish exhibition in the last five overs, which fetched 75 runs – 51 of which came off the final 15 deliveries. Du Plessis and Miller went bananas, with boundaries and sixes being scored at will, and along the way, deflating all the fine effort Australia’s bowling effort had put together 48 hours ago in Adelaide. Du Plessis and Miller fell in the penultimate and the final over having hit 28 boundaries and six sixes between them, but by then the damage was done.

Australia’s decision to bowl seemed to pay off well as Mitchell Starc took care of Quinton de Kock in the third over of the match. The early movement troubled the batsman just about enough for him to offer a feather to wicketkeeper Carey . 4 for 1 soon became 26 for 2 with Reeza Hendricks – he took 18 balls to get off the mark – falling to Stoinis – he eventually conceded 70 runs off 10 overs. Aiden Markram, who started off the same way as in Adelaide, seeing off a testing spell against Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, but having scored 32 including three sixes and a four, he too nicked to Carey, giving him his third catch of he innings.

With South Africa in need of a partnership, Miller and du Plessis took centerstage and put on a dominant show. There were a couple of close shouts – du Plessis’ thin edge was dropped by Carey and Miller was given out lbw, but a last-minute review showed the ball going over the stumps. The economical figures were dented in the last five overs. Du Plessis and Miller reached their centuries in subsequent overs before boundaries were collected at will. It took a slower bouncer by Stoinis to get rid of du Plessis, while Miller, going for a heave, holed out in the deep to Finch. However, the centurions had ensured South Africa posted their highest ever score in Australia.

Brief Scores: South Africa 320/5 (David Miller 139, Faf du Plessis 125; Mitchell Starc 2/57) beat Australia 280/9 (Shaun Marsh 106, Marcus Stoinis 63; Kagiso Rabada 3/40, Dale Steyn 3/45) by 40 runs