Van der Dussen misses elite 100 but makes his mark
When Rassie van der Dussen reached 90 at St George’s Park on Saturday he was the fourth South Africa player to forge that close to a century in his debut one-day international innings.
Thirteen balls later he became the only one of the four not to go on to three figures.
Colin Ingram made 124 against Zimbabwe in Bloemfontein in October 2010‚ Temba Bavuma’s 113 came against Ireland in Benoni in September 2016‚ and Sri Lanka were on the receiving end of Reeza Hendricks’ 102 in Pallekele in August last year.
Van der Dussen’s career record will always show that he got out for 93 in his first ODI‚ and quite some innings it was.
Nobody on the South African domestic scene hits the ball harder than the Lions lasher has been doing for almost 11 years‚ and he didn’t struggle to bring that approach to the highest level on Saturday after overcoming an unsure start to his innings.
Van der Dussen ripped his runs off 101 balls and hammered six fours and three sixes hit sweetly and through the line of the ball.
His departure from that method was his downfall: his bat splayed a touch too horizontally in dealing with a full toss from Hasan Ali and he shoved a catch down long-off’s throat.
“It was the kind of wicket that’s always difficult for somebody coming in‚” Hashim Amla told reporters in Port Elizabeth.
“It takes about 20‚ 30 balls for you to get the pace of the wicket and find some sort of rhythm. He managed to get through that and he batted really beautifully.”
Van der Dussen left the field to a rousing reception from the crowd‚ which he had the good manners to acknowledge properly‚ and was afforded a congratulatory handshake by the incoming David Miller.
More than half his runs were actually run — which must have come as a shock to Amla‚ who batted with Van der Dussen from the 18th over to the 47th in their stand of 155.
Amla is 35 going on 120. Van der Dussen turns 30 next month but charges about in the body of a 20-year-old.
An unbeaten 108 off 120 balls was Amla’s reward for putting up with all that‚ but South Africa scoring only 76 in the last 10 overs — which led to a throwback total of 266/2‚ and victory by five wickets for the visitors — could be put down to the bearded ballie running out of puff.
Then again‚ Amla faced 26 balls after 40 overs and scored 28 runs. Miller‚ one of the most aggressive batters in the game‚ made a marginally faster 16 not out off 12.
Maybe conditions at a ground where Pakistan have yet to lose an ODI — they’ve won four in Port Elizabeth and had another washed out — were the bigger factor.
Perhaps Pakistan simply played better cricket than South Africa. Whatever. Van der Dussen has earned another crack at Kingsmead on Tuesday.
Now comes the hard part‚ as Amla explained: “He’ll have to be in good form — from now til the World Cup and beyond. You’ve always got to be scoring runs.
“The brains trust have their vision and things they want to try out. For us‚ we’re just trying to play our part in the team. Obviously you want to be in good form.”
But Van der Dussen shouldn’t be too unhappy about missing out on a century on debut.
The freshly retired player who every new batter in South Africa’s ODI XI will be measured against for a while yet needed seven innings to reach 30‚ 17 to get to 50‚ and 37 to celebrate his first century in a career that didn’t turn out too badly.
His name is AB de Villiers.