Free Press Journal

Batsmen power South Africa to 438/4


AB de Villiers

Mumbai: Powered by centuries each from Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock, South Africa posted a mammoth 438/4 in 50 overs against hapless India in the fifth and deciding One-Day International (ODI) match at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday.

Fighting the heat and humidity, du Plessis struck 133 off 115 balls, with nine fours and six sixes and de Villiers smashed 119 off 61, with three fours and 11 sixes, and opener de Kock hit 109 off 87 balls to put the visitors in the driving seat in the crucial contest. De Kock smashed 17 boundaries and a six to score his eighth century and fifth against India before being caught.

De Kock was well supported by du Plessis as the duo figured in a 154-run partnership for the second wicket off just 137 balls to put the hosts under pressure right from the start, before Du Plessis and De Villiers got together to hit an 164 run-partnership for the third wicket to drive the visitors to a commanding position.

All the Indian bowlers suffered under the Protean onslaught — with Bhuvneshwar Kumar conceding the maximum 106 runs off 10 overs with a solitary wicket. This is the highest ODI score by any team at this stadium, the previous being 358/8 made by New Zealand against Canada in 2011.

Opting to bat first, the Proteas started their proceedings on an aggressive note with de Kock and partner Hashim Amla (23) handling the Indian pacers Bhuvneshwar and Mohit Sharma comfortably on the batting friendly wicket.

But pacer Mohit came back strongly to give the hosts the first breakthrough in the fourth over. Amla was trying to cut the ball and got a thin edge which safely found the hands of wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. South Africa’s score was 33/1 then.

Incoming batsman du Plessis, who has three fifties in the past four matches, and de Kock made it look too easy as they simply toyed with the Indian medium pacers and the three spinners — Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra and Axar Patel. India had their best chance in the 16th over to dismiss de Kock when the left-hander was on 58 but some sloppy fielding by Mohit, denied bowler Amit the wicket.

They brought up team’s 150 in just 23rd over. But a bowling change by Dhoni worked as Suresh Raina as de Kock trying to hit over long-off found Virat Kohli. At this juncture, South Africa were 187/2 in 26.5 overs.

The fall of the wicket did not bother the visitors as skipper de Villiers, known as a destructive batsman, made it look easy as he got off to a blinder of a start. Du Plessis and de Villiers brought up their 250 in 36th overs as the latter reached his fifty in 34 balls. Their fluent batting brought up the 100-run partnership for the third wicket in 77 balls.

Even though du Plessis was struggling with cramps and was unable to run quickly between the wicket, he made it up by hitting big shots after his century. After he went back to the pavilion retired hurt, David Miller (22 off 12) punched some powerful shots later in the innings.