RILEE ROSSOUW made the most spectacular debut in the history of South African T20 International cricket to lead the Blue Label Telecoms Proteas to a seven-wicket victory over Australia in the first of three T20 International matches at the Adelaide Oval on Wednesday.
Rossouw (78 off 50 balls, 7 fours and 3 sixes) and Quinton de Kock (46 off 39 balls, 4 fours and 1 six) set up the Proteas’ victory with a second-wicket partnership of 129 in 14.3 overs after the early loss of Reeza Hendricks without a run on the board to the third ball of the innings.
The pair first beat the South African second-wicket record partnership against Australia (111 between Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium in 2005/06) which was also the South African record for any wicket against Australia and then the overall second-wicket partnership record of 119 (by Jacques Kallis and Colin Ingram against india, also at the Wanderers in the 2011/12 season).
They were dismissed within three balls of one another, trying to finish the match in style, but by then they had done the damage and the victory was completed by JP Duminy and David Miller with the former appropriately hitting the winning run in his first match as national captain.
Smith is the only other South African to have passed 50 on his T20 International debut but by that stage he already had seven years of international cricket behind him before the introduction of this format at international level.
What was particularly pleasing was the fact that Rossouw and De Kock have a combined age of only 46 and they have played fewer than 20 T20 International matches between them. Rossouw benefited from an early life when in single figures but otherwise batted superbly to do justice to his talents on the international stage for the first time. His timing and placement of shots was impeccable. His domination allowed De Kock the time to find his timing and once he did the pair took each other on in spectacular style.
The batting of these two young lions and the overall result apart, the Proteas will take particular heart from a superb bowling performance, specifically from Kyle Abbott and Wayne Parnell. They were responsible for the final four overs and did not concede a boundary during this period while conceding only 27 runs. Parnell took 1/28 and Abbott 3/21 in only his third match.
Imran Tahir (1/31) also bowled extremely well and the whole attack which included debutant, Kagiso Rabada, in fact, deserved credit in restricting Australia to a very gettable 144/6. To back it up there were some spectacular catches from Duminy, De Kock and Farhaan Behardien.
Hendricks, Rossouw and Rabada became the 71st, 72nd and 73rd player respectively to represent the Proteas in the T20 format.
The second T20 International takes place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday (10.30am start CAT) and will be televised live on SuperSport SS2.