Now the hard part for hard-hitting Rassie
When Rassie van der Dussen reached 90 at St George’s Park on Saturday he was the fourth SA 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 2010‚ Temba Bavuma’s 113 came against Ireland in Benoni in 2016‚ and Sri Lanka were on the receiving end of Reeza Hendricks’s 102 in Pallekele in August 2018.
Van der Dussen got out for 93, and quite an innings it was. Nobody on the SA domestic scene hits the ball harder than the Lions lasher has done for almost 11 years and he did not struggle to bring that approach to the highest level on Saturday after an unsure start.
Van der Dussen ripped his runs off 101 balls and hammered six fours and three sixes.
Then his bat splayed too horizontally to 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.”
More than half Van der Dussen’s runs were run — which must have been a shock to Amla‚ who batted with Van der Dussen from the 18th over to the 47th in their stand of 155.
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 SA 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 — was the bigger factor. Perhaps Pakistan simply played better cricket than SA.
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 till 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‚ w e’re just trying to play our part in the team. Obviously you want to be in good form.”
But Van der Dussen should not be too unhappy. The freshly retired player who every new batter in SA’s ODI XI will be measured against for a while yet needed seven innings to reach 30‚ 17 to get to 5 0‚ and 37 to celebrate his first century.
His name is AB de Villiers.