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3rd ODI (D/N), Potchefstroom, September 12, 2023, Australia tour of South Africa
(34.3/50 ov, T:339) 227

South Africa won by 111 runs

Player Of The Match
102* (74)

Markram's century and South Africa spinners keep series alive

David Warner gave Australia a flying start in the chase but the visitors collapsed to lose 9 for 87

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Aiden Markram brought up his century on the last ball of the innings  •  AFP/Getty Images

Aiden Markram brought up his century on the last ball of the innings  •  AFP/Getty Images

South Africa 338 for 6 (Markram 102*, De Kock 82, Bavuma 57) beat Australia 227 (Warner 78, Coetzee 4-50) by 111 runs
South Africa surged back into the series and claimed the first of three must-win matches with an authoritative all-round performance against a side that has had the better of them for the last two weeks. Australia were finally challenged by their hosts, who racked up their fourth-highest total against them, led by Aiden Markram's second ODI hundred, and defended it inside 35 overs.
Markram blitzed his way to a century after Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma gave South Africa their first century opening stand in 21 matches. Then the spin duo of Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj took control in the field. Australia were well on track in the chase at 140 for 1 in the 15th over, when Shamsi removed Mitchell Marsh and triggered a collapse of 9 for 87. Maharaj finished with 2 for 37, the third-most economical return of his ODI career.
At a venue where pace off the ball was the most difficult to score off, both batting line-ups tucked into the quicks upfront and struggled against slower balls and spin later on.
De Kock and Bavuma scored 64 runs off South Africa's first 10 overs; David Warner, Travis Head and Marsh took 104 runs off their powerplay, their fourth-highest in the format. What South Africa had that Australia didn't was batters who changed gears and partnerships through the middle period. De Kock, for example, scored just 3 off the first 18 balls he faced and 79 off the next 74 and while South Africa had a century stand and two fifty-run partnerships, including one of the sixth-wicket, Australia had no partnerships over 27 from the third-wicket down.
That's not to say South Africa did not find themselves in trouble. After de Kock and Bavuma's strong start, they were dismissed by the Australian spinners in successive overs to open up a shaky middle order. Enter Reeza Hendricks, who replaced Rassie van der Dussen in the XI, and put on 76 with Markram, before being run out by Marnus Labuschagne.
South Africa wobbled again when Heinrich Klassen tried to sweep Head and was given out lbw allowing Australia to apply a squeeze. They denied South Africa a boundary for six overs before the pressure on David Miller told. He walked down the pitch to meet a Marcus Stoinis delivery and tried to smash it over the leg side but only managed a leading edge to mid-on.
Markram was on 47 at the time and went on to record a 49-ball fifty and time an excellent acceleration. He broke the boundary drought when he hit debutant legspinner Tanveer Sangha inside-out over extra cover and plundered 22 runs off a Josh Hazlewood over that cost 23 - the most expensive of his career.
Marco Jansen acquitted himself well with the bat and thrilled his home crowd with a 16-ball 32 in a 63-run partnership with Markram. Sisanda Magala, who was back in the side after missing the previous two matches with a knee injury, also did his bit to give Markram as much of the strike as he could and the pair put on 31 in 20 balls.
Ultimately, Markram's contribution cannot be overstated. His second fifty came in 25 balls, he was the key to South Africa scoring 93 runs off the last eight overs and he ensured the innings had an impetus that could not be matched, although at first it looked like it might.
Australia were underway in empathic fashion as Warner and Head tucked into any width, and South Africa offered plenty. Warner gave Markram two chances: he hit him in the air over cover but Miller dropped the tough chance on 6, then launched him again towards long-off but Miller could not run in quickly enough. Warner brought up fifty off 27 balls.
Head was the first to fall when he skied Magala to Gerald Coetzee at mid-on to end a 79-run stand. However, by the end of ninth over, Australia had got the required run rate to under six an over and relieved much of the scoreboard pressure.
Warner continued taking on the short ball and was on 61 when he top-edged a pull off Magala. Klaasen ran in from deep square but palmed the chance. In the end, it was not a piece of bowling that ended Warner's knock but a slip and a piece of decent fielding from Maharaj. Warner turned Shamsi around the corner to midwicket and set off for what should have been a simple single, but he slipped and lost a shoe while Maharaj picked up. Labuschagne had come too far down so Warner had to run to the danger end and a direct hit found him short of his ground.
By the time Warner was dismissed, Marsh had already holed out to Shamsi, whose competitive juices were flowing. Shamsi had spent long periods of the second ODI chatting to Labuschagne ostensibly about if he was going to enjoy his trip to Potchefstroom - his former home ground - though they seemed a bit more niggle. The conversation continued in this match though Shamsi was forced to hold his tongue when Labuschagne smacked him over long-on for six and then reverse-swept him for four.
Shamsi had the last word two balls later when Labuschagne skipped down the pitch, missed a googly and was stumped for 15. Shami took off on a celebration around the playing field, reminiscent of Imran Tahir. Australia were 165 for 4, and the game was in the balance.
Three strangling overs followed as Shamsi and Maharaj worked in tandem, and Maharaj was next to be rewarded. The last ball of his fifth over, foxed Stoinis as it turned away to beat his drive. De Kock only had a millisecond to react while Stoinis' foot was in the air but he did it in exactly the right time to complete the stumping.
Though the spinners were working well together, Bavuma decided to save Shamsi for later in the innings and brought back Coetzee, whose first two overs cost 22. Coetzee continued to offer width and bowl short but got a stroke of luck when Tim David pulled him to midwicket and substitute Bjorn Fortuin plucked the ball as it died on him. Fortuin was unsure if he'd taken the catch cleanly but TV umpire Nitin Menon was satisfied his fingers were under the ball much to the disbelief of the Australian changeroom. There was no doubt when, in the next over, Maharaj bowled Sean Abbott.
Coetzee cleaned up the tail when he bowled Alex Carey then beat Sangha for pace and finished the innings when Nathan Ellis slapped him to backward point.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent for South Africa and women's cricket

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