A well-paced 99 by AB de Villiers ensured that the Proteas posted 341-6 in the Pool B clash against the UAE in Wellington.
Nothing went according to script at the Cake Tin on Thursday. Mohammad Tauqir won the toss, and surprised all and sundry when he asked the Proteas to bat first. The minnows continued to surprise when they reduced South Africa to 96-3 after 18 overs.
An innings of substance was needed, and unsurprisingly, it was the South African captain that obliged. De Villiers has been the most consistent of the Proteas players at this World Cup, and he played beautifully for his 99 against the UAE on Thursday.
Not for the first time in this competition, Hashim Amla was dismissed after miscuing a pull shot. Quinton de Kock came into this game a man under pressure, and scratched around for 26 off 45 deliveries before nicking off.
Rilee Rossouw was promoted to No 3 in the injury-enforced absence of Faf du Plessis. While he was effective against the seamers, Rossouw struggled to score against the UAE’s slow bowlers. Shortly after De Kock departed, Rossouw knocked a simple catch back to Mohammad Tauqir.
David Miller and De Villiers were forced to rebuild. They put on 108 for the fourth wicket, but that partnership was far from convincing. The UAE should have had Miller run out for 7, and caught on 20. De Villiers also survived a good lbw shout when he was on 10.
The Proteas captain went on to score a half century off 54 balls. Thereafter, he accelerated, smashing the UAE bowlers to all corners during the batting Powerplay. This provided South Africa with a platform as they headed into the final 10 overs.
De Villiers was denied a century thereafter. A mistimed drive found the edge and flew to short third man. This time, the fielder hung on, and the UAE had the key wicket.
The Proteas continued to build on the platform set by De Villiers in the final overs. Farhaan Behardien played a great cameo of 64 off 31 balls, an innings that ensured South Africa posted a total in excess of 340.
That said, it will concern the Proteas that they had to rely on De Villiers to play the big innings once again, and that more of their top order didn’t fire against a limited UAE attack.
South Africa 341-6 in 50 overs (AB de Villiers 99, Farhaan Behardien 64 not out, David Miller 49, Mohammad Naveed 3-63)
UAE need 342 runs to win