Sydney, Feb 27:
An unbelievable, unbeaten 162 from just 66 deliveries by captain AB de Villiers powered South Africa to a 257-run win, now the joint biggest victory in World Cups, against the West Indies in a Pool B contest at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) here Friday.
Inexplicable hitting by World No.1 batsman de Villiers, who smashed 17 boundaries and eight sixes at will, helped the Africans amass 150 runs in the last 10 overs to post 408/5 in their 50 overs, South Africa’s highest World Cup total which also happens to be the quadrennial event’s second highest total. In reply, the Windies were bowled out for 151 in 33.1 overs.
The other biggest victory in World Cup was when India scored 413/5 against Bermuda in 2007, the highest total of the showpiece event, to beat the minnows also by 257 runs.
De Villiers might have scarred Windies captain and pacer Jason Holder’s confidence of bowling in international cricket permanently as he smashed 34 runs in the 48th over, second most in World Cups after compatriot Herschelle Gibbs hit 36 in an over against the Netherlands in 2007.
The 23-year-old Holder hoped to redeem himself by bowling the 50th over but de Villiers was merciless as he hammered 30 more runs off the last over to score 78 off the last three.
In the process, the South African scored the second fastest hundred in World Cup history, that too with a six, in 52 balls and the fastest 150, coming in 64 balls. The fastest World Cup century was scored by Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien against England off 50 balls in 2011.
South Africa started very slowly after electing to bat but the story totally changed in the last 15 overs. The batting powerplay, from the 36th to the 40th over, yielded 72 runs without a wicket and a dot ball!
Healthy contributions from opener Hashim Amla (65), Faf du Plessis (62) and Rilee Rossouw (61) held the innings together before de Villiers came in to bat at No.5. The 31-year-old scored his 20th ODI century at a incredible strike rate of 245.45!
The Windies bowlers did not have much to boast about as none of them, barring Chris Gayle, went below seven an over with poor Holder ending with despicable figures of 10-2-104-1. Andre Russell and Gayle picked up two wickets each.
In reply, southpaw Gayle (3), who scored a whirlwind 215 against Zimbabwe in his last match, failed to strike this time as he was bowled on the ninth ball of the Windies innings.
His wicket started a collapse that eventually led to the Caribbean side to totter at 63/7 in the 18th over. The pressure of the 409-run target proved too much for the inconsistent Windies batting line-up as only five batsmen reached double digits.
Holder (56) tried redeeming himself with the only half-century of the West Indies innings. His 48-ball knock was punctuated with three fours and four sixes. The only other recognisable contribution came from opener Dwayne Smith, who scored a 34-ball 31.
The imposing target helped South Africa attack and their leg-spinner Imran Tahrir saw this as a brilliant opportunity to clinch his first five-wicket haul of One-Day Internationals (ODI). The Lahore-born picked 5/45 from his 10 overs which included two maidens while pacers Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott clinched two wickets each.
Brief scores: South Africa 408/8 in 50 overs (AB de Villiers 162 not out, Hashim Amla 65, Faf du Plessis 62; Chris Gayle 2/21, Andre Russel 2/74) vs West Indies 151 all out in 33.1 overs (Jason Holder 56; Imran Tahir 5/45, Morne Morkel 2/23). IANS