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Excluded from World Cup squad, Marnus Labuschagne came as a concussion substitute and won the match for Australia vs South Africa

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South African captain Temba Bavuma’s remarkable century proved futile, overshadowed by the impact of concussion substitute Marnus Labuschagne. Labuschagne, previously omitted from Australia’s ODI squad, played a pivotal role in steering his team to victory on a day where fast bowlers took center stage.

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It was a poetic moment for Labuschagne, reminiscent of the 2019 Ashes when he became the first concussion substitute following a Jofra Archer bouncer that left Steve Smith incapacitated. This time, he came to the rescue of Cameron Green and, with a spirited 80-run innings, guided his team to a memorable triumph.

Australia opted to field first after winning the toss, a choice that initially paid dividends as South Africa got off to a less-than-ideal start, losing two wickets with a mere 33 runs on the scoreboard.

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Aiden Markram attempted to provide some stability with a quickfire 19 off just 14 deliveries, but his innings was abruptly curtailed by Cameron Green, with the captain’s shot soaring into the gloves of wicketkeeper Alex Carey.

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Following that, both Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller fell swiftly, leaving South Africa in a precarious position at 100 for the loss of 5 wickets.

Withstanding the early setbacks, South African skipper Temba Bavuma displayed unwavering resolve, crafting a magnificent innings of 114 runs from 142 deliveries, featuring an impressive tally of 14 boundaries and a six.

Assisted by Marco Jansen, who contributed a valuable 32 off 40 balls, South Africa ultimately managed to set a challenging target of 222 runs. Among the Australian bowlers, Josh Hazlewood distinguished himself with three crucial wickets, while Marcus Stoinis made a valuable contribution with two dismissals.

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In pursuit of the 223-run target, Australia’s batting innings faced early setbacks, losing two wickets for a modest 38 runs on the scoreboard. The situation took a more ominous turn during the 6th over when a ferocious delivery from Kagiso Rabada struck Cameron Green squarely on the head.

The force of the impact was so substantial that Green was forced to leave the field due to injury. This compelled the introduction of Marnus Labuschagne as a concussion substitute, a role that wasn’t originally assigned to him but became necessary due to Steve Smith’s absence.

Even with the setback caused by Green’s injury, Australia’s troubles persisted, with the team facing a precarious situation at 113 runs for the loss of 7 wickets. Nevertheless, Labuschagne, who had come in to bat at number 8, joined forces with Ashton Agar to orchestrate a remarkable recovery for their innings.

Labuschagne and Agar forged a pivotal partnership, taking the attack to the South African bowlers and offering a resolute response to the early adversity. Their remarkable partnership yielded 113 runs for the eighth wicket, a partnership that saw the Proteas lose their grip on the match, ultimately resulting in a hard-fought three-wicket victory for Australia. The 2nd ODI of the 5 match series will be played on the 9th of September.