Aussie cricket captain Mitch Marsh has defended his side's selections after a contentious incident and a worrying batting collapse punctuated a huge defeat to South Africa in the third ODI match in Potchefstroom. A bizarre run-out to David Warner and a highly controversial catch to remove Tim David formed part of the horror collapse that saw the hosts seal a 111-run victory.
The visitors were cruising at 1-140 in reply to South Africa's formidable 6-338, before losing 8-60 to eventually be bundled out for 227 in just 34.3 overs. The loss marked the third-biggest for Australia in ODIs against South Africa, only eclipsed by a 196-run defeat at Cape Town in 2006 and a 142-run belting at Johannesburg in 2016.
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Warner was in fine touch again, blasting a quick-fire 78 before being run-out in bizarre circumstances when one of his shoes fell off. While that wicket was brutally unfortunate for the Aussies, the visitors were left feeling a sense of injustice later in the innings when David was caught out on 8.
Trying to stem the bleeding of the Aussie collapse as their last recognised batter, David smacked a pull shot towards substitute fielder Imaad Fortuin at mid-wicket, who appeared at first glance to take a stunning low catch. It was then sent upstairs to the third umpire for review after replays suggested the ball had come into contact with the ground.
After an extensive review and to the astonishment of many viewers, the third umpire ended up giving David out as Australia's faint hopes went up in smoke. Cricket fans were quick to convey their displeasure with the ruling from officials.
How is that out? Like how on earth.
That's clearly grounded. Hahah they are so desperate for a win..
— paRaY_YasiR ✍️ (@ParayYasir2) September 12, 2023
I’m not convinced Fortuin took that catch. It bounced. Controversial decision by the TV Ump 😬 #SAvAus
— ijaaz🔰 (@_ijaaz_) September 12, 2023
Oh boy, that is a shocker. Stevie Wonder in the third umpires box again
— Luke Francis (@lukefscott) September 12, 2023
100% not out! Disgusting umpiring!
— Nessienoo (@bridges_va92430) September 12, 2023
Mitch Marsh defends selection decisions
Aside from the controversial dismissal and the shocking batting collapse, Aussie skipper Marsh was also left trying to explain the decision to play just the one specialist spinner in debutant Tanveer Sangha. The decision was made to look questionable after Proteas tweakers Tabraiz Shamsi (2-29) and Keshav Maharaj (2-37) starred with the ball, tying down the tourists' batters in the middle overs.
It was a brutal baptism of fire for Sangha, who was expensive with the figures of 1-64 (off just eight overs) and outbowled by part-timer Travis Head (2-39 off 10 successive overs). As Marsh explained after the match though, Ashton Agar missed the match with soreness, while fellow spin-bowling regular Adam Zampa was rested due to workload concerns ahead of next month's World Cup.
"Ash wasn't available for selection today, that made it tough to play two spinners," said Marsh, who conceded when interviewed post-match by South African great Shaun Pollock that he "probably misread it (the pitch) a little bit".
"Zamps has got a big workload coming up so today was a good opportunity to rest him and give Tanveer an opportunity. I thought Travis Head bowled exceptionally well. The ball spun in the second innings and their spinners were very good."
Aiden Markram was the star of the show for the home side with the bat, hitting a classy 102 not out to set the Aussies the imposing 339-run victory target. After putting on 79 for the first wicket with Travis Head (38) and 61 for the second wicket with Marsh (29), Warner looked set for back-to-back tons before his chaotic run out for 78 swung the match South Africa's way.
Warner set off for a single, slipped over as he lost his right shoe, dropped his bat and fell short diving at the non-striker's end, beaten by Maharaj's direct hit. The following over, in-form Marnus Labuschagne (15) was stumped by Quinton de Kock after being beaten by a magnificent wrong 'un from Shamsi.
South Africa's massive win reduced Australia's series lead to 2-1 ahead of fixtures at Centurion on Friday at the Wanderers on Sunday. Marsh is hopeful all-rounder Cameron Green will be available for the last game after he was concussed by a Kagiso Rabada in the series opener, while the visitors are also hopeful of giving South Australian speedster Spencer Johnson a debut ODI cap if he can overcome a minor hamstring issue.
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