For half of Tuesday’s fourth ODI between the Proteas and Sri Lanka at Newlands, it was all about Faf du Plessis.
Showing superhuman levels of fitness, South Africa’s Test captain rocketed to a stupendous 185 as the hosts eventually won by 40 runs to take a 4-0 lead in the series.
Yet in the end, Du Plessis will be more happy about the fact that him and his teammates finally got a competitive workout.
It’s been way too easy for the Proteas the past two weeks and at times the bowling adapted quite poorly to being put under pressure by the Islanders, who valiantly made 327 in reply to 367/5.
South Africa will be better for the experience as they need to get used to this pressure in New Zealand later this month.
Du Plessis can do no wrong in this series.
The 32-year-old star faced only 141 balls, stroking 16 fours and three sixes on his way to a second hundred in less than a week.
In terms of how his innings was constructed, this may well rank as the greatest knock in the Proteas’ ODI history.
Du Plessis didn’t hit a six until he passed 150, showcasing the control he showed throughout.
There were silky drives, hard punches off the back foot and cheeky scoops but no fireworks for the most part.
Only when Australia’s David Warner’s record of the highest individual score at Newlands (173) came within sight did Du Plessis cut loose.
And even then he hardly changed his method.
He played proper, risk-free shots as the Sri Lankan bowlers were thoroughly demoralised.
It was disappointing that he couldn’t quite connect the short ball that eventually dismissed him.
Curiously, it also means that Gary Kirsten’s South African record of 188 not out against the UAE in 1996’s World Cup remains intact.
Quinton de Kock (55) and AB de Villiers (64) provided superb support.
Finally showing some backbone, the Sri Lankan opening combo of Upul Tharanga and Niroshan Dickwella (58) caned the Proteas’ wayward attack.
Tharanga played a knock of rare class, galloping to 119 off 90 as the visitors reached 216/2 in the 30th over.
But Wayne Parnell, after a poor start, recovered well to break Sri Lanka’s backbone with 4/58 despite the best efforts of Sandun Weerakoddy (58).