AB de Villiers smashed 71 as the Proteas cruised to a nine-wicket victory at the Wanderers on Sunday, clinching the series 2-0.
De Villiers showed exactly why he has to open the batting in T20 internationals in the future, as he struck the quickest fifty by a South African in this format – his 21 balls bettering his previous record of 23.
He had some 27 000 people chanting his name at The Bullring, much like the chanting he gets when he plays for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, and this knock resembled the form he usually displays in India, and the timing couldn’t be better going into the World T20.
His knock was aided by the equally impressive Hashim Amla, who needed to perform with Quinton de Kock vying for his opening spot. The brute force of De Villiers was complemented by the finesse of Amla, who only took 27 balls to reach a half-century himself.
The Wanderers track promised runs, so it was difficult to predict whether or not the 171 that England posted was a competitive one. It was ultimately nowhere close, as the Proteas saw off the total with 5.2 overs to spare.
Faf du Plessis won the toss and sent England into bat, as he did in the last-ball thriller at Newlands on Friday. They could have had a wicket first ball if it wasn’t for JP Duminy dropping Jason Roy at short cover. Kyle Abbott and Kagiso Rabada bowled brilliant opening spells, however, and Roy was eventually bowled for nine, the delivery after Rabada had struck him on the helmet.
England were their own worst enemy at times. Skipper Eoin Morgan ran out Alex Hales (16), and the last seven wickets fell for just 14 runs.
Morgan made up for that run out with an excellent 96-run stand with Jos Buttler. Buttler played the biggest role in the stand, racing to 50 off just 27 balls. They took a particular liking to David Wiese, who conceded 40 off his three overs.
But 157-3 turned into 171 all out in 19 balls. Buttler’s wicket prompted the collapse with Morgan departing the next ball. No batsman from No 6-11 scored more than five.
And then it was just carnage. De Villiers knows the Wanderers track very well and trusted it so, unleashing from ball one with a boundary. It was Chris Jordan who felt the full force of it, conceding 41 from just two overs. De Villiers and Amla took their side to 100 inside seven overs.
The stand eventually ended on 125, as De Villiers holed out to Root in the deep, but the damage was done. Amla (69 not out) eased past his previous best of 54, and Du Plessis (22) played a sturdy supporting act. Confidence will now be high going into the series against Australia, before they head off to India for the global showpiece.