It rarely happens that three of the country’s biggest sporting codes are all in action in the same week as Bafana Bafana, the Proteas men and women, and the Springboks were all scheduled to be in action this week.
The week started with Bafana breezing past the Democratic Republic of Congo at Orlando Stadium with a one-nil victory that gave South Africans a reason to smile amidst the darkness that is load-shedding which is still in full swing countrywide.
The victory from Hugo Broos’ men in Soweto on Tuesday night was followed up by a stellar Proteas men’s victory last night at SuperSport Park to further set-up an exciting weekend for the country as the Springboks also return to action tomorrow in the rugby Cup in France.
Despite the precautionary measure that saw captain Temba Bavuma miss out on Friday, stand-in captain Aiden Markram and the rest of the players took matters into their own hands and made the country proud with a crushing 164-runs defeat over the Australians.
The chief destroyer last night was none other than local boy Heinrich Klaasen who obliterated the Australian bowling attack.
It was one of those days where it seemed like Klaasen could only find the middle of his bat whenever he made contact with the ball, regardless of who was the delivering the ball.
The right-handed batter whacked a career-best 174 that came off just 83 deliveries, a knock that saw him smash 13 sixes and as many fours right up until he was dismissed off the last ball of the innings, where he attempted to further drill misery into an already traumatised Australian bowling unit.
David Miller (82* off 45) shared in a record-breaking 222-runs stand with Klaasen, as the pair took South Africa from 194/4 inside 35 overs, to 416 by the 50th.
At some point, Adam Zampa (0/113 in 10 overs), who returned the joint-worst figures in the half-century long history of ODI cricket, looked clueless as captain Mitchell Marsh kept walking up to the spinner looking to understand where he needed to place his fielders as Klaasen and Miller smacked the spinner all around the park.
With a mammoth total on the board, the stage was set for the big fast bowlers to finish the game and leave nothing behind, a second golden opportunity to show up for the team after their failure to bowl out the Australian tail during the first ODI in Bloemfontein.
Back at his favourite hunting ground, Lungi Ngidi (4/51) struck first removing both David Warner (12 off 13) and Mitchell Marsh (6 off 9) inside the first five overs.
From there on in, things went downhill for the visitors as Travis Head (17 off 11) retired hurt from a finger injury. Alex Carey (99 off 77) was the lone warrior for the visitors as they were reduced to 252/9 inside 35 overs.
Kagiso Rabada (3/41), Keshav Maharaj (1/27) and Marco Jansen (1/55) chipped in to help the hosts level the series.
The victory took the Proteas one-step closer to wrapping up what will be a comeback of note having found themselves two-nil down in a five-match series at some stage.
The series will be rightfully decided tomorrow at The Bullring, a ground where the two nations’ cricketing heroes’ blood, sweat and tears still stain the world-class stadium to this day after the 438-game almost two decades ago.
With a 10am start scheduled for the ODI series decider on Sunday, and a 3pm start for the Springboks-Romania clash at the Stade Matmut-Atlantique, the country is in for a nerve-wrecking but yet exciting end to the weekend.
South Africa 416-5 in 50 overs (H. Klaasen 174, D. Miller 82 not out, H. van der Dussen 62; J. Hazlewood 2-79)
Australia 252 in 34.5 overs (A. Carey 99; L. Ngidi 4-51, K. Rabada 3-41)
Result: South Africa won by 164 runs
Series: The five-match series is level at 2-2