Marnus Labuschagne's first ODI ton in vain as South Africa sweep series against Australia

Proteas make it 11 wins in last 12 encounters against the Aussies in the 50-over format

Cricket - South Africa v Australia - Third ODI - Senwes Park, Potchefstroom, South Africa - March 7, 2020   Australia's Marnus Labuschagne celebrates his century   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
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Marnus Labuschagne's maiden ODI century went in vain as South Africa eased to a six-wicket win over Australia in Potchefstroom on Saturday to sweep the three-match series.

After being asked to bat first, Australia scored a below-par 254-7, South African-born Labuschagne hitting a run-a-ball 108 to hold together a mediocre effort.

The hosts were in control throughout the chase. JJ Smuts anchored the innings with a career-best 84 and was well supported by other new faces Kyle Verreynne (50) and Heinrich Klaasen (68 not out) as they cruised to victory with 27 balls remaining.

South Africa continued their recent dominance of Australia in the format, having won 11 of their last 12 ODI meetings dating back to 2016.

Earlier, Australia struggled to get going, managing just 39 in the first 10 overs for the loss of David Warner (4), and were three down for the addition of another 16 runs as South Africa picked up key wickets of Steve Smith (20) and captain Aaron Finch (22).

Finch was a debut wicket for South African seamer Daryn Dupavillon (1-21), who was in the team after the home side rested the spearhead of their attack, Lungi Ngidi.

Labuschagne set about building the innings as he put on 81 for the fourth wicket with D’Arcy Short (36) and 53 for the fifth with Mitchell Marsh (32).

He reached his maiden ODI ton off exactly 100 balls, much to his delight and that of a sizeable group of family and friends in the stands.

South Africa’s chase came at a good rate, with Smuts’s 84 coming off 98 balls, including 12 fours, before he fell with his hundred, and victory, in sight. He added 96 with Verreynne for the third wicket, a partnership that laid the platform for a comfortable victory as man-of-the-series Klaasen smashed the winning runs with a six to take his tally in the three matches to 242.

Klaasen was delighted after a memorable three-match series that included a century and two fifties.

"It's been a fantastic couple of weeks for me," Klaasen said. "I looked to play freely and it seemed to work, so I have to keep it going. Hopefully I can cement a spot. I've learned the hard way you can't take runs for granted."

South Africa now embark on a three-game ODI tour of India starting on Thursday, while Australia return home to host New Zealand in a limited-overs tour beginning Friday.