Auckland, March 24:
Faf du Plessis (82) and captain AB de Villiers (65 not out) took South Africa to 281/5 in 43 overs against New Zealand in the rain-curtailed first semifinal of the cricket World Cup at the Eden Park here on Tuesday.
Du Plessis, who scored his 15th One-Day International (ODI) half-century, held the innings together. The right-handed batsman was involved in a crucial 83-run stand with Rilee Rossouw (39) for the third wicket.
That set up the game for the big-hitters like de Villiers and David Miller. Left-hander Miller bludgeoned his way to a 18-ball 49 fired the team to 281/5 in 43 overs. As per the Duckworth/Lewis (D/L) method, the host need 298 in 43 overs.
At the start, South Africa openers Hashim Amla (10) and Quinton de Kock (14) failed to make the best of New Zealand’s generosity. In the fifth ball of the second over, left-handed de Kock edged a pacer Trent Boult delivery but wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi failed collect it.
In the second delivery of the third over, right-handed Amla also got a reprieve as the batsman pulled a Tim Southee ball only to be dropped by Boult at fine leg.
However, Boult made amends by removing both the batsmen. The left-arm seamer rattled Amla’s stumps before de Kock offering a catch to Southee.
At 31/2 in 7.5 overs, Rossouw (39) joined du Plessis in the middle and the duo eased the pressure with sensible batting. The left-right combination stitched a 83-run partnership for the third wicket.
After Rossouw fell to Corey Anderson, offering a catch to Martin Guptill at point, skipper de Villiers and du Plessis started their show.
While du Plessis held the innings together, de Villiers was at his destructive best, finding boundaries at will.
Du Plessis took 85 balls to complete his fifty, while his skipper needed just 32. And as a result of the latter’s big-hitting, South Africa collected 152 runs in the final 13 overs and 97 runs in the final eight overs.
In the 36th over, de Villiers was dropped on 38 by Kane Williamson off Anderson. The right-handed batsman jumped on the chance and punished them with impunity. He recorded his 46th fifty in 32 balls. He came up with a a six and two fours in the same over.
Rain halted play after 38 overs and continued for more than 90 minutes. However, de Viliers continued his mayhem even as du Plessis perished after the break due to rain. Miller’s pyrotechnics that included three sixes and six fours gave the finish his team needed. (IANS)