Showing patience and skill on a tricky Boland Park pitch was always going to pay off and Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen cashed in as both compiled brilliant centuries to lift South Africa to 296/4 in the first ODI against India in Paarl on Wednesday.
Captain Bavuma did the hard work up front as three wickets fell around him. His solid technique and the confidence he showed in the Test series carried over and some loose cricket by India allowed him to get settled at the crease, working the ball around expertly.
And then he went big, stroking a classy 110 off 143 deliveries and batting through to the penultimate over, when he holed out to long-on off Jasprit Bumrah.
Bavuma had earlier won the toss and elected to bat first in bright sunshine, but South Africa slipped to 68/3 inside 18 overs.
Janneman Malan, sans footwork, was caught behind off Bumrah for just 6, Quinton de Kock scratched around for 27 off 41 balls and then Aiden Markram (4) paid for poor judgement on a quick single and ran himself out.
Coming in with two spinners who have troubled the Proteas in the past in Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal bowling, Van der Dussen needed no time at all to get going as he showed sublime skills and shot-selection.
Sweeps featured prominently and Van der Dussen reached his half-century at better than a run-a-ball.
And there was no separating Bavuma and Van der Dussen as they added 204 for the fourth wicket, a record for South Africa against India, off just 190 deliveries,
Having reached his century, Van der Dussen was able to change gears at the death, hitting four sixes and finishing on a magnificent 129 not out off 96 balls, his last 29 runs coming off just 13 balls.
“I came in under pressure at 68/3, Temba and I had to get a partnership going with the spinners on,” Van der Dussen told SuperSport after his innings. “Temba played a briliiant anchoring innings, which allowed me to just bat.
“It’s about matching or upping the intensity when I come in. In the past I’ve taken 15-20 balls to get going, but today conditions told me I had to get going early on. I could not allow Chahal to settle, he was turning it, and I had to get the sweeps going to put him under pressure,” Van der Dussen said.
India had no spark in the field and Bumrah was their only bowler to impress, taking 2/48 in 10 overs and bowling well at the death. From looking like making no more than 200, it was a sensational performance by Van der Dussen and Bavuma.