Match Report:


Super sub Labuschagne leads Aussies to unlikely victory

Cameron Green's concussion replacement spearheads Australia's recovery from 6-93 to claim victory in first ODI

Marnus seizes ODI lifeline with match-winning 80no

Concussion substitute Marnus Labuschagne has seized his ODI lifeline to dig Australia out of a hole and get their World Cup lead-in off to a winning start in Bloemfontein.

Labuschagne replaced Cameron Green in Australia's XI midway through their run chase after the young allrounder was struck on the head by a Kagiso Rabada bouncer and was later substituted out of the match with concussion.

The Queensland right-hander walked to the crease at No.8 with the score 5-72 chasing South Africa's 222 all out, and perhaps sensing this could be his one chance to stake a late claim for a spot in Australia's ODI World Cup squad after missing the provisional 15-player touring party announced this week, the 29-year-old firmly grabbed his opportunity to rescue the innings and steer the visitors to what had earlier seemed an unlikely victory.

In scenes reminiscent of his previous recall as a concussion sub for Steve Smith at Lord's during the 2019 Ashes, Labuschagne didn't seem fazed by his sudden injection into the match as he raced out of the blocks with six boundaries in his first 21 balls.

Green forced from the field after Rabada blow

Australia's preference under Andrew McDonald to structure their 50-over team with a plethora of allrounders paid dividends as Labuschagne built a match-winning unbroken eighth wicket stand of 112 with Ashton Agar (48no).

The pair resurrected the chase by seizing on anything short and wide before milking singles, going 14.4 overs without a boundary while still accumulating 55 runs.

Labuschagne went to his half-century from 47 balls and was unbeaten on 80 from 93 balls when Agar struck the winning runs to see Australia cruise to victory in the 41st over.

Captain Mitch Marsh earlier inserted the hosts on a wearing Mangaung Oval surface in Thursday's first ODI and it was his South African counterpart Temba Bavuma that held the Proteas innings together as the hosts batting crumbled under the Australians relentless line and length.

The diminutive right-hander became the 13th opener and second South African – after Herschelle Gibbs in 2000 – to carry his bat in a completed ODI innings as he singlehandedly lifted his side to a competitive 222 all out with a superb unbeaten 114 from 142 balls.

Green is assessed by the team doctor after being hit on the helmet two balls into his innings // Getty

Marco Jansen's 40-ball 32 from No.7 was the next best for the Proteas as Quinton de Kock (11), Aiden Markram (19) and Heinrich Klaasen (14) all got in but failed to kick on.

In reply, the visitors lost David Warner for a second-ball duck in the first over after he dragged a delivery from left-armer Jansen back onto his stumps.

But perhaps more concerning than the veteran opener's form was the head blow to Green five overs later who was struck on the helmet from a Rabada (2-48) delivery that reared off the pitch and caught the West Australian off guard.

Green had pressed forward as he so often prefers to do when playing the short ball but the speed in which the delivery was upon him left him with nowhere to go.

All he could do was turn his head as the ball crashed into the grille, leaving him with a visible cut behind his left ear.

After a brief on field assessment with team medical staff, the 24-year-old retired hurt and was substituted out of the match for Labuschagne not long after.

By that stage, Josh Inglis (1), Alex Carey (3) and Marcus Stoinis (17) had all departed, and Sean Abbott (9) followed shortly after – and while the run-rate was a healthy seven runs per over, the tourists had slumped to 7-113 requiring 110 to win with only three batters to come.

But Labuschagne found a willing ally in Agar to carry Australia to a three-wicket win and break a run of five straight losses against South Africa in men's ODIs.

Earlier, Bavuma and de Kock had started watchfully with the world's No.1-ranked one-day international bowler, Josh Hazlewood (3-41), returning to Australia's XI for the start of the 50-over series alongside spinners Adam Zampa and Agar.

After announcing his intention to retire from the format following the ODI World Cup in November, de Kock struggled for timing and fell for a painstaking 11 off 31 balls when he picked out Green on the square leg boundary off Stoinis (2-20) after the allrounder was handed the new ball alongside Hazlewood.

A horror mix-up spelled further doom with No.3 Rassie van der Dussen punching the ball to Stoinis at mid-off, running almost the entire way down the pitch only to realise Bavuma remained unmoved at the other end, then spinning around and failing to beat the throw to the 'keeper's end.

Calamity for Proteas as Stoinis-Carey combine for run out

Bavuma began slowly, reaching his half-century from 78 deliveries before being forced to accelerate as he ran out of partners at the other end.

His last 34 runs came from just 21 balls as he farmed the strike expertly in a 37-run stand for the last wicket with Lungi Ngidi – who didn't score and was the last batter out in the penultimate over.

Bavuma was dropped on two by Ashton Agar, had an lbw overturned on 24 and was grassed by Carey on 88 – and he made the Aussies pay, raising his fifth ODI ton by dispatching Adam Zampa for six and four.

Marnus rebounds after ODI form went 'really downhill'

The two sides return to the same venue on Saturday for the second one-dayer in the five-match series.

2023 Qantas ODIs v South Africa

September 7: Australia won by three wickets

September 9: Second ODI, Bloemfontein (D/N), 9pm AEST

September 12: Third ODI, Potchefstroom (D/N), 9pm AEST

September 15: Fourth ODI, Centurion (D/N), 9pm AEST

September 17: Fifth ODI, Johannesburg, 6pm AEST

Australia ODI squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Aaron Hardie, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Marnus Labuschagne, Tanveer Sangha, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa

South Africa ODI squad: Temba Bavuma (c), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Brjor Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Sisanda Magala, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi, Kagiso Rabada, Rassie van der Dussen