Bavuma displayed remarkable resilience, carrying his bat with an unbeaten 114 that propelled South Africa to a total of 222 all out. At one point, it seemed more than sufficient as Australia, adopting an ultra-aggressive approach, stumbled to 113 for seven by the 17th over.
However, Labuschagne, positioned at number eight in the batting order as a replacement for Cameron Green, injected composure into the Australian innings, concluding with an impressive 80 not out. He formed an unbroken eighth-wicket partnership worth 112 runs alongside Ashton Agar, who contributed an unbeaten 48.
Green’s departure from the match occurred when he was struck on the left earpiece of his helmet by the second ball he faced from Kagiso Rabada, resulting in his exclusion.
“Some weird things happen around concussions,” said man of the match Labuschagne at the after-match presentation.
His Test career was ignited when he replaced Steve Smith during a Test at Lord’s in 2019.
Labuschagne was not selected in Australia’s World Cup squad and only joined the squad in South Africa after Steve Smith withdrew with a wrist injury.
He said he had taken only a short break after this year’s Ashes series in England before getting back to work.
“I knew I needed to improve my one-day game,” he said.
Bavuma batted throughout the South African innings while his teammates crumbled against accurate bowling on a slow, dry pitch with uneven bounce.
Bavuma was dropped on two when Agar put down a diving chance at backward point off Sean Abbott.
He survived again on 88, with last man Lungi Ngidi at the wicket, when he top-edged a slog against leg-spinner Adam Zampa and wicketkeeper Alex Carey spilled a straightforward chance.
Two overs later, Bavuma hit Zampa for six and four to raise his fifth one-day international century.
He finished with 14 fours and a six off 142 balls despite struggling with cramp towards the end of the innings.
He watched the Australian innings from the team balcony.
“We weren’t at our best with the ball,” said Bavuma.
“Marnus took the opportunities he got early on and stabilised the innings.”
(With inputs from Reuters)