QUINTON DE KOCK played an innings of incredible maturity to set the Castle Lager Proteas up for a potentially match-winning total in the final Momentum One-Day International against India at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.
In the end the match finished in a disappointing no result after India were not able to start their innings in reply to the Proteas’ total of 301/8.
But the day belonged to De Kock who became the fifth player to score three consecutive ODI centuries and put him in the company of four legends of the game – Zaheer Abbas and Saeed Anwar of Pakistan – and his own countrymen – Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers – and also set the record for the most runs scored in a three-match ODI series. He finished with 342 runs at an average of 114 with a strike rate of 95.26.
What stood out about this innings was the different circumstance he had to handle. In the first two matches he and Hashim Amla posted large century opening partnerships and were not under undue pressure apart from getting through the new ball spell.
This time the Proteas made a poor start and slumped from 22/0 to 28/3. De Kock, partnered by his captain, AB de Villiers, seemed totally unmoved by the experience as he was quite happy to knock the ball around for singles and not try to force the pace.
The boundaries also continued to flow as he placed the ball into gaps almost at will and also danced down the wicket to hit Umesh Yadav, bowling at 140 km/h, for a straight drive boundary.
He had his share of luck as he was dropped twice on 37 and again on 43 and his only weakness appears to be between 35 and 45. Once he reached 50 he moved his game up a gear as he moved from 50 to 101 off 49 balls and he has, in fact, gone on to reach a century every time he has reached a half-century.
AB de Villiers was an equally valuable partner in the Proteas recovery that saw the pair post a fourth wicket partnership of 171 off 184 balls which is a record for this wicket against India. The previous best was the 154 of Gary Kirsten and Hansie Cronje at Sharjah in 1996.
De Villiers batted with restraint up front while the rebuilding process was under way but, as always, once he was well set, he tore into the Indian attack and he moved from 50 to 109 off 30 deliveries. Incredibly it was his first ODI century at SuperSport Park.
Once De Kock departed, De Villiers and David Miller shared a devastating stand of 53 for the fifth wicket off only 34 balls.
De Kock finished with 101 off 120 balls (9 fours and 2 sixes), De Villiers with 109 off 101 balls (6 fours and 5 sixes) and Miller with an unbeaten 56 off 34 four balls (5 fours and 3 sixes).
It was De Villiers’ 16th ODI century to put him one behind Jacques Kallis on the South African all-time list and De Kock’s fourth.
De Kock matched Ireland’s Paul Stirling’s performance of scoring four ODI centuries before his 21st birthday although he is the only one to achieve this against the Test-playing nations.
De Kock was named Momentum Man of the Series which was hardly surprising as he has dominated the series throughout.