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De Villiers 162*, South Africa 408


South Africa 408 for 5 (De Villiers 162*, Amla 65, du Plessis 62, Rossouw 61) v West Indies 


West Indies must be sick of AB de Villiers and South Africa by now. As if all those records broken in Johannesburg earlier this year were not enough, South Africa returned to embarrass them with another plethora, this time in a World Cup match. The most significant of those were 261 runs in the last 20 overs, a World Cup record and second only to the Johannesburg loot in all ODIs, AB de Villiers' fastest 150 in ODIs, and the highest team total on Australian soil, an astonishing 408 on what was - believe it or not - a slow somewhat two-paced pitch.

De Villiers now has the fastest fifty, hundred and one-fifty in ODI cricket - all coming against West Indies - and the fastest double cannot be too far away. Some might say West Indies themselves a favour by not employing a slip during the stabilising partnership of 127 in 23.4 overs between Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis. Had West Indies been more urgent and less content with the calm before the storm, they could have brought in the lower middle order early. Going by the carnage in the end, that might not have been that good a thing for West Indies.

Amla and du Plessis played important innings when the ball wasn't coming on, and when West Indies were bowling well at the top of the innings. Rossouw went one better and refused to slow down when Chris Gayle removed both Amla and du Plessis in the same over. Yet all three shall be consigned to being footnotes on a day that de Villiers showed there is no better front-runner in contemporary cricket than him.

This whole innings had followed the disturbingly frequent norm between bigger teams where the pitch has little in it for the bowlers, nothing happens in the first 30 overs of the first innings, and then the batsmen erupt thanks to the new fielding regulations. The only way to counter it is to keep taking wickets or be exceptionally good with defensive bowling in the end. West Indies didn't have a slip in in the initial middle overs when that could have resulted in wickets, and their bowlers wilted in the end. However, de Villiers' hitting - a triumph of imagination and orthodoxy in the same brief while - managed to bring joy to what is becoming mundane.

The plunder began when Rossouw and de Villiers - batting first as opposed to chasing, which is when their team tends to struggle - showed no signs of circumspection that was a feature of their defeat to India. The two added 134 in 12.3 overs. West Indies managed to get only 12 dots in during the partnership, including none in the Powerplay that cost them 72 runs. Rossouw and de Villiers matched each other stroke for stroke, and at one moment for statistics too: when the two were 55 off 34 with five fours each and a six each. That's not a double whammy you want to be a part of.

Full report to follow...
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