Captain AB de Villiers flayed West Indies with a brilliant unbeaten 162 from just 66 balls to drive South Africa to an imposing 408 for five in their World Cup Pool B clash on Friday.
The Proteas skipper utilised his full repertoire of strokes in an awesome display of batting, peppering the boundaries at a sun-bathed Sydney Cricket Ground with eight sixes and 17 fours in a 104-minute innings that will live long in the memory.
He shared stands of 134 runs with Rilee Rossouw (61), another of 48 with David Miller (20) and a third of 80 with Farhaan Behardien (10), to turn around his country’s innings after West Indies had made a promising start to the match.
By the end of his knock, the crowd were on their feet chanting “AB!, AB!, AB!” as the 31-year-old, who reached his century with a six from the 52nd ball he faced, accelerated towards the finishing line.
His 64-ball 150 is also the fastest in One Day International history.
South Africa were desperate to kickstart their campaign after their 130-run defeat to India, and de Villiers had given them every chance of doing so by the time he walked off the field.
West Indies, charged with confidence after their defeat of Zimbabwe on Tuesday, had initially looked a completely different side to the rabble that lost their tournament opener to Ireland.
Skipper Jason Holder – and to a lesser extent Jerome Taylor – got menacing bounce off the wicket with the new ball, and opener Quinton de Kock (12) departed in the sixth over.
Hashim Amla (65) and Faf du Plessis (62) then put together a second wicket partnership of 127, but the disciplined West Indies kept up the pressure.
Amla smashed a huge six to bring up his half century off 75 balls, though, and du Plessis almost matched the feat for his fifty only for the ball to fall just short of the boundary rope.
West Indies desperately needed a breakthrough and it fell to Chris Gayle, whose innings of 215 fired the Zimbabwe victory, to provide it in the 30th over.
Wasting no time
Du Plessis was brilliantly caught behind by Denesh Ramdin off an edge, and two balls later Amla was trapped lbw, with Gayle celebrating reducing the South Africans to 146-3 with a dance down the wicket.
That brought Rossouw and de Villiers to the middle – and they wasted no time in taking the game to their opponents, rattling up a fifty partnership in just over half an hour from 39 balls.
Rossouw, brought into the side in place of JP Duminy, also brought up his half century with a flourish, slapping a rising delivery into the grandstand for a six.
De Villiers took one fewer delivery than Roussow to reach his fifty in 30 balls but reached the milestone in more punishing style with a six, a four and another four in successive deliveries off Sulieman Benn.
It was only a taster of what was to come. – Reuters