AB de Villiers blasted the fastest 150 in ODI history to set up an emphatic 257-run win against the West Indies in Sydney.
De Villiers has crushed two world records in less than six weeks. On 19 January at the Wanderers, the Proteas’ premier batsman blitzed the fastest ODI century of all time (31 balls). Forty days later at the SCG, against the same hapless West Indies attack, De Villiers smashed 150 in 64 balls to beat the previous record held by Shane Watson by 19 deliveries.
Thanks largely to the display by De Villiers and Rilee Rossouw, the Proteas posted 408-5 in what was a crucial Pool B match. The batsmen responded after that disappointing showing against India in Melbourne last Sunday. This team is, at this point, still in the running for a top-placed finish in the group.
The West Indies came into this clash on the back of a convincing win against Zimbabwe. Chris Gayle fired to score 215 in that fixture, and the islanders would have hoped that he could repeat the feat against South Africa.
As it was, Gayle scored 3 in pursuit of the 409 target. When Kyle Abbott clean bowled Gayle in the second over, the contest was effectively decided. No other West Indian batsman was ever going to get them close.
The success of the South African bowlers must be seen in context. Imran Tahir has been the pick of the Proteas bowlers at this tournament, and deserved five wickets at the SCG. And yet, some of the credit must go to the Proteas batsmen. They were responsible for the 408 total, and that scoreboard pressure played a big role in the dismissal of Gayle, as well as the other West Indies batsmen.
De Villiers won the toss and decided to bat, but would have been a little disappointed with how the South African innings began. The ball wasn’t coming onto the bat, and the Proteas were crawling along at 30-1 when the first Powerplay concluded.
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 these two were beginning to accelerate, Du Plessis was dismissed by the tame off-spin of Chris Gayle. Amla was trapped lbw two balls later.
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 scored 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 a question of when rather than if De Villiers would reach three figures.
After racing to 50 off 30 balls, De Villiers found another gear. It took 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 and breaking another world record in the process.
The scorecard will confirm that it was a successful day for the South African batsmen. Amla, Du Plessis, and Rossouw all made important contributions, and this provided the platform for De Villiers to produce one of the most breathtaking displays.
The Proteas will face Ireland in Canberra next Tuesday. With the South African batsmen in this sort of mood, more records are likely to tumble. Another win for the Proteas should earn them a place in the play-offs.
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 151 in 33.1 overs (Jason Holder 56, Imran Tahir 5-45, Kyle Abbott 2-37)
South Africa won by 257 runs