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Proteas young guns smoke world champs


It seems this leadership thing sits well with De Kock for he was the epitome of responsibility.

From the beginning it was clear that this fresh-faced Proteas ODI team was on to something.

Maybe it started with Quinton de Kock actually winning the toss, something his predecessor Faf du Plessis had been grappling with for some time.

But apart from making this vibrant group of youngsters believe they can now actually beat any opponent after crushing the world champions by seven wickets on a glorious night at the foot of Table Mountain, it was the shot in the arm South African cricket desperately needed after a long and arduous summer.

One win doesn’t quantify as much – just ask the Test side. But it was the quality of performance that was most pleasurable. Bar a couple of fielding lapses, De Kock’s rookies dominated every facet of the match.

And as is so often, in whatever format, it was De Kock who played the most prominent role. It seems this leadership thing sits well with De Kock for he was the epitome of responsibility.

A key element of his game is the ability to assess the conditions. He did that superbly well on the night, realising quickly the surface was slower than the usual Newlands surface.

The skipper’s innings of 107 (113 balls) was a masterpiece of placement and timing, almost delicate in places and at odds with the brute force he is so often associated with.

De Kock has often enjoyed match-winning partnerships in red-ball cricket with Temba Bavuma and last night they resumed their love affair under the Newlands lights.

Bavuma (98) was a bundle of energy from the moment he came to the crease.

The Newlands faithful certainly appreciated two of South Africa’s premier batsmen being totally in control for a change.

They rose in unison to applaud De Kock when he reached three-figures and were gearing up to applaud Bavuma as he too closed in on his milestone.

But unlike four years ago when Bavuma brought the house down right here at Newlands when he reached his maiden Test century, there was almost mouse-like silence when Chris Jordan trapped the stylish right-hander two runs short this time around. It was the only displeasure on an almost perfect night for the Proteas that was set up earlier in the day by Tabraiz Shamsi. The left-arm wrist-spinner certainly showed that there is life after Imran Tahir.

Only Joe Denly (87) seemed to adapt to the slower-than-usual conditions for the visitors, and were it not for a 91-run partnership for the seventh wicket with Chris Woakes (40), then the match could have been even more one-sided.

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