AB de Villiers: Timing and luck led to smashing victory

Captain AB de Villiers, who led the Proteas to victory after scoring the fastest century in ODI history - five balls faster than the previous record. (Duif du Toit, Gallo)

Captain AB de Villiers, who led the Proteas to victory after scoring the fastest century in ODI history - five balls faster than the previous record. (Duif du Toit, Gallo)

After scoring the fastest One Day International (ODI) hundred in history during South Africa’s 148-run victory against the West Indies at the Wanderers on Sunday, captain AB de Villiers said he was helped by the perfect combination of timing and luck.

“You don’t very often just come in and get momentum behind you right away. More often than not, you’ve got to work for it,” De Villiers said after his record-breaking knock.

“Today was an exception. Out of nowhere, you hit a couple in the middle and then you get a bit of luck behind you and you can do amazing things.”

Coming in at number three, after the Proteas had lost their first wicket on 247 with just 11.3 overs remaining in their innings, De Villiers promptly slapped the first delivery down the ground for four.

It was a sign of things to come as the Proteas captain bludgeoned his way to a 104 from 31 balls, beating the previous fastest century by five balls, which was scored by New Zealand’s Corey Anderson last year, also against the West Indies.

The previous fastest century title was held by Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, whose record stood from 1996 to 2014.
Afridi congratulated De Villiers after the match, saying “well played, mate”.

Treble centuries
De Villiers was finally out for 149 from 44 balls in his explosive 59-minute stay at the crease.

South Africa posted 439 for two as openers Hashim Amla (153 not out) and Rilee Rossouw (128) laid the platform for the massive total. It was the second-highest total in ODIs, eclipsing South Africa’s own 438 for nine against Australia in 2006 also at the Bullring.

“When you look back in history, guys who played good knocks will tell you it was just one or two in the middle and then something clicked,” De Villiers said.

“Sometimes you’ve got to work harder to get that sniff, or sometimes you just get that click. Today it just happened from the word go.”

Attempting to steer the focus away from his own performance, De Villiers said Sunday’s display from the Proteas would bode well for them ahead of next month’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

“Performances like these help our confidence. That’s what 80 or 90 percent of sport is about – believing in yourself as a team and as an individual.

“You can see the difference between teams that play with confidence and teams that don’t. I’d like to believe we are getting more confidence behind us.

“That’s what this series is all about: for us to play well and get confidence and to go to the World Cup believing we are the best in the world. No team has ever won the World Cup not thinking they are the best.”

Tactical approach
While it may have seemed like De Villiers simply threw his bat at the ball amid the avalanche of runs his wide-willow yielded, the 30-year-old said he employed a definite tactical approach.

“In today’s cricket, you have to read the game a little bit to see what the bowler is trying to do. You can’t just let him bowl at you, you have to try and take the initiative and put him under a bit of pressure.

“I don’t know how many balls I faced, I premeditated [a lot of shots] but you’ve got to take the initiative and take to it the bowler, instead of him bowling to you.”

With a 2-0 lead in the bag, in the five-match series against the West Indies, the Proteas head to East London for the third ODI on Wednesday. De Villiers said he would prepare in the same way he would for any match despite his exploits on the Highveld.

“I won’t try and repeat it in the next game because it’s going to be different conditions. I sit in front of the TV and watch every ball to see if there’s swing, assess the conditions and see where the game is going. So when I walk out there, I know exactly what’s required of me and how I want to play my innings.” 

The captain was just one run shy of breaking the fastest 150 record, which is currently held by Australian Shane Watson, who attained it in 83 deliveries. Had De Villiers stayed at the crease, the record would have most likely been broken in under 50 deliveries.

De Villiers’s teammate reached another record for the Proteas on Friday’s match against the West Indies in Durban, becoming the fastest player to notch up 5 000 ODI runs. Amla is the Test cricket captain for the Proteas.

The two teams meet again on Wednesday January 21 at Buffalo Park, East London, then on Sunday January 25 at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth and the final ODI in the series takes place on Wednesday January 28 at SuperSport Park, Centurion. – Sapa, Staff reporter

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