South Africa 346 for 4 (Malan 177*, de Kock 120) beat Ireland 276 (Singh 100*, Campher 54, Shamsi 3-46, Phehlukwayo 3-56) by 70 runs
A dominant South African batting performance allowed them to square the series with Ireland and deny the hosts a first series win over a top-eight ranked team. South Africa were much improved from three days ago, when they lost to Ireland for the first time, and appeared rejuvenated by the return of Quinton de Kock, who was rested for the first two matches, and their new opening combination.
Janneman Malan partnered de Kock at the top and both brought up centuries. Malan's 177* was the second in his seven-match career and his highest score, while de Kock's was his 16th and first since February last year. The pair shared in South Africa's fifth-highest opening stand, first opening stand over 200 since the year 2000, and first century opening stand since the 2019 World Cup. They asked Ireland to pull off their highest successful chase to win the series and despite Simi Singh's fighting maiden century at No.8, they fell well short.
In good batting conditions, de Kock and Malan were severe on the Irish attack, particularly Mark Adair, whose line was often too wide, and Andy McBrine and George Dockrell, who conceded 102 runs between them in just 13 overs. Both batters put on perfect displays of power-hitting, with boundaries all around the small ground.
The onslaught began in the second over when Malan flayed Adair through point and then whipped a full delivery through mid-on. De Kock was not far behind with back-to-back off-side drives off Craig Young. Ireland had a half-chance to dismiss de Kock in the next over, on 12, when he drove Adair in the air in the direction of Curtis Campher in the covers. Campher dived to his right and got a hand to the ball but could not hold on to a tough chance.
Left-armer Josh Little, introduced in the ninth over, drew the edge from Malan with his first ball but it went through the vacant second slip area for four. South Africa finished the first powerplay on 58 without loss with a platform to accelerate. The first six of the innings came in the 12th over when Malan stepped forward to launch Adair over mid-on. He would clear the boundary five more times, four times over the on side and once, in the final over, over extra-cover.
Ireland pulled things back slightly between the 14th and 18th over when they did not concede any boundaries. In that time, Malan brought up his fifty, off 66 balls, De Kock's milestone took fewer balls, 43, and came when he hit McBrine over the covers for four.
De Kock overtook Malan and brought up his hundred first with a push to long-on off Dockrell, off the 83rd ball he faced, and Dockrell's punishment did not end there. In the next over, de Kock took 16 runs off his first three balls and Malan reached his century off the fifth ball to leave Dockrell with figures of 0 for 36 from three overs.
Ireland had some respite in the 37th over when de Kock pulled Simi Singh into the hands of Adair on the square leg boundary. South Africa promoted Rassie van der Dussen to No.3, ahead of captain Temba Bavuma, and he did not take too long to get his eye in. He reverse-swept the fourth ball he faced for four, but let Malan continue as the aggressor.
Malan started the final powerplay by hitting Singh for a six over long-on and edging him for four to third man. He reached his highest ODI score with another edge, between the wicketkeeper and short third man, and then brought up 150 by stepping to the leg side and driving Young back over his head. Though none of South Africa's finishing options came off, Malan batted to the end and ensured they scored 100 runs in the last 10 overs to post a daunting total.
Ireland's reply was dented early when Keshav Maharaj, who opened the bowling, had Paul Stirling caught at slip, pushing at a ball that drifted into him and then turned away sharply. This was Stirling's third cheap dismissal in the series after he made 13 and 27 in the previous two matches. Two overs later, Maharaj removed Andy Balbirnie, who looked to drive him and edged once more to Malan at slip. Balbirnie had not scored less than 50 in any of his three meetings with South Africa before this.
Two overs after that, Lizaad Williams became the third South African to take a wicket with his first ball in ODIs. He pitched it short of a length, and McBride hung his bat out, edged and was caught behind. Ireland were 27 for 3 in the eighth over and could not really recover from there.
Campher, batting for the first time against the country of his birth, and Singh put on 104-run for the seventh wicket and both scored half-centuries to lend some respectability to Ireland's cause but it was never going to be enough. Campher skied a delivery to the leg side where Malan took the catch to give Andile Phehlukwayo a third wicket, and his most convincing return of the series. Ireland lost three wickets for 33 before Craig Young partnered Singh to see him to his century. It came off 91 balls, in the 47th over, and was decorated with 14 boundaries in a show of defiance against a South African attack that lost its shape as the inevitable drew closer.
South Africa bowled Ireland out with 2.5 overs to spare and gained much-needed points on the World Cup Super League table. They now have two wins in the competition and are in 10th place. Ireland, who took 15 points from this series, remain fifth.