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03 Mar 2015 09:44
South Africa's Hashim Amla (L) celebrates with teammate Faf du Plessis after reaching his century during the Cricket World Cup match against Ireland. (Jason Reed, Reuters)
Hashim Amla hit his highest One Day International (ODI) score with a majestic 159 and Faf du Plessis grabbed a century, as South Africa set Ireland a monumental target of 412 for an unlikely World Cup victory at Manuka Oval on Tuesday.
It was the second match in a row after their victory over West Indies on Friday that South Africa had breached the 400-run mark, and their 411 for four was the second highest tally in any world cup match.
Ireland were unbeaten in the tournament coming into this Pool B clash but their bowlers, particularly the seamers, were simply outclassed by South Africa’s prolific batsmen.
It could even have been worse had Irish off-spinner Andy McBrine not removed the two top-ranked batsmen in the world, Amla and AB de Villiers (24), in three balls in the 42nd over.
Calmly, confidentlyAmla had been dropped on 10 and should have been run out on 104, but otherwise batted calmly and confidently, at one stage threatening to match Chris Gayle’s double century on the same pitch last Tuesday.
As measured as his captain de Villiers is explosive, Amla reached his 20th ODI century from as many balls in a partnership of 247 with du Plessis – a record second-wicket stand for South Africa.
His 159 came off 128 balls and he hit 16 fours and four sixes by the time he holed out to Ed Joyce in the deep, 36 overs after the same fielder had dropped him at midwicket off Kevin O’Brien’s first delivery.
Amla was the quickest batsmen to score 20 one-day centuries, achieving the feat in 108 innings compared to India’s Virat Kohli, who was the previous fastest to the mark in 133 knocks.
Du Plessis also made his 109 from as many balls for his fourth ODI century before Kevin O’Brien bowled him through the gate, while Rilee Rossouw confirmed his fine form with a second successive quickfire innings of 61.
Ireland’s best moment came in the third over, when John Mooney dismissed opener Quinton de Kock caught behind for one in a wicket maiden. – Reuters
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