Quinton de Kock slammed 178 and the second-highest score by a South African in one-day internationals to help beat top-ranked Australia by six wickets in the first of five ODIs on Friday.
Opener De Kock’s 11th ODI century was the best innings by a South African against Australia in the 50-over format and second-best ever for the Proteas behind Gary Kirsten’s 188 not out against United Arab Emirates at the 1996 Cricket World Cup.
De Kock crunched 11 sixes along with 16 fours to send South Africa to 295-4 at SuperSport Park, overtaking Australia’s 294-9 with more than 13 overs to spare.
He shared a 145-run opening stand with Rilee Rossouw (63), then really cut loose to completely dominate a 123-run partnership with captain Faf du Plessis, smashing 94 of those 123 runs.
In the process of overtaking Herschelle Gibbs’ 175, the previous best by a South African against Australia, De Kock broke what he said was his favorite bat.
“A bat’s a bat. Wood’s wood. But it was quite a nice bat,” he said. “It was a good wicket. Hopefully we’ll get a couple more wickets like this in the series.”
He is sixth on South Africa’s all-time list of century-makers in ODIs, going ahead of former captain Graeme Smith with his innings on Friday.
De Kock’s match-winning performance followed new fast bowler Andile Phehlukwayo’s 4-44, which reined in a fast-starting Australian batting lineup.
George Bailey top-scored for Australia with 74. But his seventh-wicket partnership of 79 with John Hastings, who hit a career-best 51, was needed to prop up Australia after the tourists went out hard against the South African bowlers and found themselves in trouble at 192-6 in the 29th over.
Even with the recovery from Bailey and Hastings, it still wasn’t nearly enough, with South Africa romping home.
“(It was) probably a 370, 380 wicket if you look at it now,” Australia captain Steve Smith said. “A lot of guys got starts and didn’t go on with it. We just weren’t disciplined enough with the bat to go on and make a big total.”
De Kock finally fell with South Africa 15 runs short of victory, the second of two wickets in an over for Scott Boland, who led Australia’s bowlers with 3-67.
Australia has little time to stew on the defeat, with the second game in Johannesburg on Sunday.