India must chase a record 304 for victory in the first ODI after a captain’s knock of 104 not out by AB de Villiers lifted South Africa to 303-5 in their 50 overs.
It was a brilliantly paced innings from De Villiers (104 off 73 balls) who shared three consecutive partnerships in the forties (48, 45 and 41) with Faf du Plessis, David Miller and JP Duminy respectively.
Farhaan Behardien further strengthened his place in the side with a vital 35 off 19 balls, sharing a 65-run partnership with De Villiers as they smashed 65 runs in the last five overs.
Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla racked up 45 runs before De Kock fell to R Ashwin for 29. Amla and Du Plessis (62) shared a 59-run partnership for the second wicket and together they laid the foundation for De Villiers to dominate the innings.
And dominate he did. He was patient throughout the middle overs, not hitting too many boundaries but keeping the scoreboard ticking over.
Watching De Villiers accelerate his innings is like flicking a switch. He got stuck on 98 in the last over with Behardien having the strike, but instead of taking a single, Behardien struck two fours and a six to take South Africa to the brink of 300.
A single off the fourth ball gave De Villiers the strike, but he missed the fifth delivery and you feared he might have missed his chance to reach a well deserved hundred.
That concern quickly disappeared as De Villiers readied himself and hit a six off the last ball to reach his century and take his team’s total to 303, the now biggest team total at Kanpur.