AB de Villiers’s swashbuckling knock of 162 not out powered South Africa to 408-5 in the Pool B match against the West Indies in Sydney.
South Africa find themselves in a commanding position, thanks largely to the display by Rilee Rossouw and the Proteas skipper at the back end of the innings. The Proteas have posted their highest ever World Cup total, and the second highest in the history of the tournament. The pressure is now squarely on the West Indies.
Consider where South Africa were after 10 overs. De Villiers won the toss and decided to bat, but would have been a little disappointed with how the South African innings began. The Proteas lost Quinton de Kock in the sixth over, and were crawling along at 30-1 when the first Powerplay concluded.
Jason Holder said at the toss that he didn’t mind bowling first, and the West Indies backed up their captain’s statement with a disciplined display. The ball wasn’t coming onto the bat, and eventually De Kock succumbed to the pressure, hitting a wide Holder delivery straight to point.
Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis showed terrific determination to fight South Africa back into the contest, putting on 127 for the second wicket. Unfortunately, just as the pair were beginning to accelerate, Du Plessis was dismissed by the tame off-spin of Chris Gayle. Amla was trapped lbw two balls later, and with that double blow, the West Indies had curbed South Africa’s momentum.
But again, the Proteas managed to fight their way back into a position of dominance. The key to the resurgence was the counter-attack by Rilee Rossouw. Given the opportunity to play through the injury-enforced absence of JP Duminy, Rossouw proceeded to make a statement. And once Rossouw had wrested back the initiative and raced to a half century off 31 deliveries, AB de Villiers was free to play his natural game.
Rossouw and De Villiers scored 72 runs in the batting Powerplay, the best to date in the 2015 tournament. The fourth-wicket partnership of 134 runs is also a record for South Africa at the World Cup.
South Africa piled on a further 150 runs in the final 10 overs. The West Indies bowlers, so good up front and in the middle overs, had no answer. South Africa’s innovation and execution during that 15-over period was sublime, and it was never a question of De Villiers reaching three figures.
After racing to 50 off 30 balls, De Villiers found another gear. It took just 22 more deliveries for the great batsman to reach his 20th ODI century. The milestone marked the second-fastest hundred in World Cup history (Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien still holds the record after smashing a century off just 50 balls in 2007).
De Villiers took his opposite number, Holder, for 34 runs in one over. Some may have marked that as a highlight, but De Villiers wasn’t done with Holder yet. He smashed the West Indies skipper for 30 runs in the final over of the innings, surpassing 150 in the process. Having reached that figure in 64 balls, De Villiers now holds the record for the fastest 150 in ODIs.
The Proteas will need to back up their fine batting performance with a tight bowling display. They are without the off-spin of Duminy as well as the seam of Vernon Philander.
Kyle Abbott has been included and will be expected to offset the loss of Philander. The Proteas will be targeting the wicket of Gayle. The aggressive left-handed batsman is in good touch, having recently scored 215 against Zimbabwe.
The West Indies will be targeting South Africa’s fifth bowler. Wayne Parnell has been dropped, and Farhaan Behardien is expected to bowl a lot of overs. Fortunately for the Proteas, they have a big total on the board, and this will ease the pressure on their limited bowling attack.
South Africa 408-5 in 50 overs (AB de Villiers 162 not out, Hashim Amla 65, Faf du Plessis 62, Chris Gayle 2-21)
West Indies need 409 runs to win