After South Africa mowed down Australia’s 371 in their one-day match, the question has to be asked: what’s a safe total anymore?
In the match in Durban, the Aussies put up their impressive-looking score with a near-textbook innings: centuries to two of the top three batsmen, with David Warner notching up 117 and Steve Smith 108. The opening stand was 110 from 13 overs, with Warner’s opening partner Aaron Finch firing to 53 in 55 balls.
Having lost the previous two games, Australia had to win to keep the series alive, and could have felt pretty good about putting up 371. Before heading away to South Africa, Finch had chatted with Inside Sport, and one of the topics that came up was the modern ODI mindset: “I don’t think teams are overly daunted by a 300-run chase anymore.”
Finch continued: “You’re not going to chase down 300 every day of the week. But you know if you bat well, you’re going to make 300. You’re going to chase it down probably eight times out of ten; as an Australian team, we’re confident, in the right conditions, to chase down 300.”
The Proteas, evidently, operate within the same frame of reference. At 5/217 and less than 20 overs left, they weren’t out of it. David Miller, who made 118, and Andile Phehlukwayo steered the hosts home with two deliveries to spare.
It was the second-highest total chased down in ODI history, and surely left the Aussies exasperated. In the aftermath, observers noted that Australia had slowed in the middle of its innings, making only 67 runs between overs 14 and 28. So that’s the issue then: set 400, and maybe that should be safe.