Before any of the real batting damage had been done, Dale Steyn could have inflicted some with the ball. Aaron Finch had yet to score a run with he tucked into a full delivery and drove back to Steyn, but did not keep the ball down. Steyn's eyes lit up, his vein pumped and he stuck out an arm but even the quickest of reactions was not good enough to hold on. The ball grazed Steyn's fingertips and went for four and the floodgates opened.
Andile Phehlukwayo would not have been happy with himself when he bowled a second bouncer in his fifth over, which was called wide, and he had to bowl an extra ball. But it turned out to a blessing in disguise. The extra delivery was sent down with a bit of extra bounce and Mitchell Marsh was drawn into a loose stroke. He got a thick edge and Quinton de Kock had to dive one-handed to his right to take the catch at full stretch. He had pulled off a stunner to give Phehlukwayo a third.
Without AB de Villiers, South Africa missed two run-out chances when Imran Tahir was not backing up enough to receive a throw that could have found Travis Head short of his ground, and then when George Bailey called Head through for a streaky single off Farhaan Behardien but they eventually got one right. Bailey nudged Phehlukwayo to David Miller at midwicket and went for the run that was never on. Miller swooped in and had enough time to underarm the throw onto the stumps before Matthew Wade had even come into the frame.
Quinton de Kock's stunning timing was as easy on the eye as cricket gets, but not all of South Africa's innings was as pretty. Rilee Rossouw slugged the ugliest shot of the innings against an even uglier delivery. Mitchell Marsh started off with a half-tracker that asked to be hit. Rossouw responded by meeting it a third of the way down the crease and flinging his bat at it to send it through long-off.
It was back-breaking stuff for the Australian attack and it only got worse when de Kock swiped at a Marsh delivery to send him over square leg for six. The shot was so brutal, it broke the bottom of de Kock's bat. Before the over was up, Rossouw blasted a drive down the ground. He didn't get any runs for it but he also did damage to his bat and needed another.
Steve Smith waited until the 18th over to introduce Adam Zampa into the attack and he must have wondered why he waited so long. Zampa's first ball was a regulation legbreak, tossed up at Rossouw, who played a shot he could have waited to bring out, Rossouw attempted the reverse-sweep without even giving himself a sighter and missed. The ball was spinning back in and would have gone on to hit off stump and Rossouw's party, which was hotting up at 63 off 45 balls, was over.
By the end of a breathless night, de Kock was hitting sixes for fun. Howeve, the most significant of them came off the 76th ball he faced, He scooped Daniel Worrall over fine leg and into the stands to bring up his 11th ODI hundred. A packed SuperSport Park crowd appreciated the shot a little more than de Kock, who celebrated in fairly quiet fashion for a man who was doing his talking with the bat.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent