Australia staged a remarkable comeback against South Africa in the first ODI in Bloemfontein. A lower-order partnership between Marnus Labuschagne and Ashton Agar led Australia to victory, securing a 1-0 series lead.
Bloemfontein, September 8, 2023 – In an exhilarating first One-Day International (ODI) match at Bloemfontein, Australia pulled off a spectacular comeback to defeat South Africa by three wickets. The victory came courtesy of a lower-order rescue act led by concussion substitute Marnus Labuschagne and all-rounder Ashton Agar after Australia found themselves in a precarious situation at 113/7 while chasing a target of 223 runs set by South Africa.
The match began with high drama as Marco Jansen dismissed David Warner early in Australia’s chase, creating tension in the Australian camp. However, Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh responded with a quick partnership, keeping the scoreboard ticking. The game took another twist when Kagiso Rabada dismissed Marsh, and then Cam Green was struck on the helmet by Rabada, forcing him to leave the field due to concussion. Labuschagne was named as the like-for-like concussion substitute for Green.
Australia’s middle order continued to crumble as Josh Inglis and Alex Carey departed in quick succession. Marcus Stoinis, who started briskly, also fell, leaving Australia in dire straits. Sean Abbott’s dismissal by Keshav Maharaj further exacerbated the situation. At this point, Australia seemed on the brink of defeat.
However, a remarkable partnership between Ashton Agar and Marnus Labuschagne turned the tide in Australia’s favor. The duo stitched together a century stand for the eighth wicket, displaying composure and determination. Labuschagne reached his half-century and guided Australia to a comfortable victory with nearly ten overs and three wickets to spare. Their partnership proved to be the match-defining moment, securing a 1-0 lead in the five-match series for Australia.
In the first innings, after winning the toss and opting to bat, South Africa had a topsy-turvy start, losing key wickets at regular intervals, including Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen, and Aiden Markram. South Africa found themselves at 100/5 with Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller departing in quick succession. However, a spirited partnership between Marco Jansen and Temba Bavuma added 57 runs, taking the score to 157/6.
South Africa’s lower order crumbled once again, but Bavuma displayed tremendous grit and determination. His heroic century, carried his bat through the innings as he remained unbeaten on 114*. Thanks to Bavuma’s efforts, South Africa managed to reach a total of 222.
The teams will clash again at the same venue on Saturday, September 9, for the second ODI, with Australia looking to extend their lead in the series.
South Africa: 222 in 49 overs (Temba Bavuma 114*, Marco Jansen 32, Josh Hazlewood 3-41)
Australia: 225/7 in 40.2 overs (Marnus Labuschagne 80, Ashton Agar 48, Gerald Coetzee 2-44)
Result: Australia won by 3 wickets.