Ireland were on the end of a heavy defeat in the first of their two ODI’s in Benoni as a century from debutant Temba Bavuma saw William Porterfield’s men lose by 206-runs against a dominant South Africa.
It was a day to forget for the visitors who were already missing Ed Joyce through injury, before an early morning fall in his hotel room also ruled out wicket-keeper/batsman Niall O’Brien before the start.
For all of that however it was to be the inability to get going in any of their disciplines throughout the day that was to cost Ireland dear.
The tone for proceedings was set early as Kevin O’Brien dropped Bavuma at slip in the 2nd over when he had just a single to his name, and the 26-year old made the bowling side pay the full price.
Missing Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, the hosts made light of the absences as Bavuma and Quinton de Kock posted a stand of 159 for the first wicket.
At that point it had looked like the breakthrough would never come as Ireland struggled in the heat, but O’Brien managed to hurry through de Kock’s defences for 82 (8 fours 2 sixes) to finally get his side on the board.
Bavuma and Faf du Plessis added another 62 before Craig Young tempted the latter into a mistimed pull and the Bready bowler finally got rid of the opener in his next over. By that time however Bavuma had gone past his century, having hit 13 fours and a six in his 113.
It was a classy effort once he had survived his early scare but Ireland knew they were far from out of the woods with plenty of quality batting still to come.
O’Brien picked up his second wicket soon after; having David Miller caught behind by Gary Wilson for 14 before South Africa stepped on the gas towards the end. The final 40 deliveries brought an additional 87 runs as JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien both made half centuries.
Duminy hit 4 fours and a six in his unbeaten 52 while Behardien needed just 21 deliveries to reach his 50 (3 fours and 3 sixes) although an excellent catch by Porterfield on the boundary saw him dismissed from the last ball of the innings.
The final total was a massive 354-5 and the bowling figures were reflective of that with Young (3-81) and O’Brien (2-66) the only wicket-takers.
Ireland were really only playing for pride from there but their reply took a hammer blow when the skipper was trapped leg before by Kagiso Rabada with just the second ball of the innings.
John Anderson and Gary Wilson came and went with only Paul Stirling (40) offering much in the way of resistance early on as the visitors slumped to 77-4.
Kevin O’Brien hit 7 fours in his mid-order 41 but with the batting side now struggling to cope with the spin of Duminy and Aaron Phangiso, the end was always nigh. Sean Terry and George Dockrell both made 16 but Duminy’s 4-16 and Phangiso’s 2-33 saw Ireland finally swatted for a total of 148.
The margin of defeat will certainly have hurt the Ireland management team but given the quality of the opposition, no doubt the most disappointing aspect of the performance will have been an unusually poor effort in the field.
They have precious little time to turn it around before squaring up to world champions Australia on Tuesday morning.
South Africa 354-5 (50 overs; T Bavuma 113, Q de Kock 82, JP Duminy 52*, F Behardien 50, F du Plessis 21, C Young 3-81, K O’Brien 2-66)
Ireland 148 all out (30.5 overs; K O’Brien 41, P Stirling 40, JP Duminy 4-16, A Phangiso 2-33, W Parnell 2-36)