AB de Villiers made such a fast start to his brilliant innings against the West Indies on Thursday night that it is hard to believe the South African batsman was unhappy with his batting leading up to the World Cup opener.
“I actually wasn’t hitting the ball very well in the nets all week, so I just tried to keep things simple. I knew we were in a tricky situation, but all we needed was a partnership. So I just focused on watching the ball and not moving around too much,” De Villiers said on Friday in describing his fine century that lifted South Africa from 20 for two to victory by seven wickets.
Ironically, De Villiers played some of the most exquisite drives you could ever hope to see on a cricket field and he modestly said he had been surprised by the quality of his ball-striking.
“Those days don’t come around every day, I did time the ball very well which was really nice. I hit the ball nice and late, which was great. That’s going to be important on these pitches,” he said.
Although victory was comfortably achieved with 43 balls to spare, South Africa were under pressure at times, with warning bells ringing on two occasions — when Darren Bravo was mounting a dazzling counter-attack and when they slipped to 20 for two chasing 223.
“Obviously it was a great opening match for the team, we stuck to the basics extremely well. It’s great to start well,” De Villiers said.
The 27-year-old has been his typical eager-beaver self as he continues his transition from young talent to senior player and the busy cricketer will be looking to garner plenty of runs in this World Cup.
“It’s great to have some runs under the belt, it gives me confidence and I’ve laid the foundation for a big tournament,” he said.
After the highs of New Delhi, there is now a bit of a flat period for the South Africans as their next match is only next Thursday against the Netherlands. De Villiers is understandably keen to get out into the middle again.
“It’s a bit of a frustrating wait, but it’s the same for all the teams. It’s important to keep the momentum, we have a couple of days off and then we will build up slowly again.”
De Villiers was also excellent behind the stumps and even though he didn’t get any dismissals himself, he was slick in running out Dwayne Bravo for 40 after Morne Morkel’s composed fielding at short third man.
“I’m enjoying the keeping, I’ve worked unbelievably hard at it for the last month and it gets better by the day. I hope there’s some special stuff to come behind the stumps,” De Villiers said.
Perhaps the only blemish on an excellent day of cricket for the Titans star was a back spasm after the game, but it is not expected to keep him out of action for long.
Source: SuperSport – February 25, 2011 / KEN BORLAND
He has composed a special verse for his team: Stand together / Breathe as one / Fight to win the game / It’s time to be the best you can be.
This composition gives us insights to the man that is de Villiers; one who goes about his cricket with heart tattooed on his forehead. He took charge with South Africa at a slightly dodgy 20 for two.
But 222 was all the West Indies were defending. They resigned themselves to the obvious outcome once de Villiers got going.
South Africa cruised home in 42.5 overs with de Villiers (107) and JP Duminy (42) remaining unbeaten.
South Africa had a near-perfect start to the World Cup. Be it the inspired move to open with Johan Botha (who had his man Chris Gayle), or squeezing out 29 overs for only 138 runs between spinners Botha, Imran Tahir and Robin Peterson. Spin might be a recurring theme in the World Cup. Even the West Indies opened with Sulieman Benn.
How Tahir (4-41) lived to up to his promise. True to his reputation of a court jester, he even sped to the point region, jarring his head vigorously on dismissing Ramnaresh Sarwan.
The result of the match may not affect the West Indies as much as the inopportune injury to Dwayne Bravo. He tripped on his follow-through in the 14th over of the South African innings. Writhing in pain, he had to be escorted off the field.
Source: Ahmedabad Mirror – February 25, 2011 / DEBA PRASAD DHAR
AB de Villiers showed his pedigree with his second World Cup hundred, his 10th in all one-day internationals, and the fastest by a South African in a World Cup as South Africa chased down 223 at a canter at the Feroz Shah Kotla, the result sealed in the 43rd over for the loss of only three wickets.
De Villiers, who was named ODI Player of the Year for 2010, barely put a foot wrong in his knock, ticking along at better than a-run-a-ball from the start and sounding an ominous warning for South Africa’s opponents in this tournament. He shared in a decisive 119-run stand for the third wicket with Graeme Smith and shut down the game by adding a further 84 in JP Duminy’s company.
South Africa’s batsmen built upon the good work of their bowlers as Imran Tahir had a debut to remember, picking up four wickets and striking at crucial moments to peg West Indies back on a pitch that displayed none of the demons that led to the abandonment of the last international game at this ground in December 2009.
A new-look South African bowling unit kept a lid on a combustible West Indies, the spinners bowling a combined 29 overs for just 138 runs as West Indies imploded to be all out for 222 when, at one stage, 270 had seemed more likely. After the spinners had kept South Africa in control for much of the game, Dale Steyn returned at the death to ensure there would be no late fightback.
South Africa were in dire need of a counterpunch when de Villiers entered at the end of the fifth over with West Indies’ new-ball bowlers in the midst of an inspired opening spell. Hashim Amla, whose 1,322 runs in the year leading up to this World Cup has made him one of the vital cogs in South Africa’s one-day line-up, and Jacques Kallis both fell to sharp catches behind the wicket as Kemar Roach bowled with real pace and, continuing the trend already being set by other teams in this competition, left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn shared the new ball with success.
South Africa were 20 for 2 with that dismissal but, defying West Indies’ attempts to keep the pressure on, de Villiers appeared totally in control from the start of his innings. Threading the gap between cover and point on multiple occasions, he sprinted into the 20s at better than a-run-a-ball and South Africa were soon trundling along at well above the asking rate.
West Indies desperately needed another breakthrough and the talismanic Dwayne Bravo might have been just the man to provide it but in his third over a painful knee injury put an end to his contribution to his team’s defence. Attempting to change direction mid-follow through and cut off a drive from Smith, Bravo swivelled awkwardly and immediately fell to the ground, clutching his knee. The physiotherapist was called for and Bravo was helped from the field and taken to hospital for scans. The extent of the damage will not be known until the results of those tests are in.
South Africa marched confidently on in his absence, de Villiers bringing up a 54-ball fifty with a massive blow over wide long-on in the 22nd over and Smith providing steady support until he missed a straight one from Kieron Pollard and had his middle stump flattened five runs short of a half-century of his own. His departure sparked wild celebrations, and at 139 for 3 in the 29th over there was still a chance the chase could get tricky. There was barely a hint of nerves from Duminy and de Villiers, however, and after a short break for rain they eased South Africa home with minimum fuss, de Villiers reaching his ton from just 97 balls.
The chase might have been rather more challenging had West Indies’ batsmen been able to make more of the solid platform laid by Darren Bravo and Dwayne Smith, who helped their team weather the early departure of Chris Gayle with a 111-run partnership. Dwayne Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul showed some fight with a 58-run stand of their own but there was precious little support from the rest of the line-up.
The thoroughness of South Africa’s gameplans and their willingness to utilise unorthodox tactics was in evidence first in their decision to include no less than three frontline spinners in Johan Botha, Tahir and Robin Peterson and then when, for the first time in his career, Botha opened the bowling and soon snared Gayle with an edge to slip.
Bravo set the early tone with a couple of deftly glanced boundaries off Steyn and brought up a 55-ball 50 in the 16th over, his third in ODIs, and celebrating the milestone with a remarkable one-handed smite over long-on off Tahir. The century stand was brought up off 117 deliveries in the 20th over, and with West Indies starting to seize the initiative Smith turned to Botha.
Again the offspinner provided the breakthrough, slipping one past an uncertain flick to pin Bravo in front of middle and dismiss him for 73 despite a slightly desperate referral from the batsman. Tahir then took centre stage, holding a a simple caught-and-bowled chance off Smith for his first international wicket and removing Ramnaresh Sarwan before he had time to settle
Just as the elder Bravo and Chanderpaul were starting to flow a brainless piece of running put paid to their fightback. A reverse-sweep from Chanderpaul went straight to the man at short third man but inexplicably a run was called for and Bravo was easily run out for 40, the score 178 for 5 in the 38th over.
West Indies unravelled with alarming speed thereafter, their innings sliding swiftly into mediocrity after Chanderpaul, who had upped the tempo with a couple of thumping strikes, chipped Tahir straight to Peterson at long-off. Kieron Pollard’s arrival at the crease caused an immediate ripple of excitement among a decent crowd of spectators, but Steyn returned to dismiss him for a golden duck with a skidding inswinger that struck the pad in front of middle and leg. Tahir had his fourth wicket when a wild swipe from wicketkeeper Devon Thomas ended up in JP Duminy’s hands, running back from extra cover, and the tail proved no match for Steyn’s pace and accuracy as the innings was wrapped up soon afterwards.
- AB de Villiers’ century is his second consecutive hundred against West Indies in World Cups after his 146 in the World Cup 2007. It is also his tenth century overall in ODIs.
- In 39 matches since the beginning of 2009, de Villiers has scored 1947 runs at an average of 62.80 and strike rate of 97.88 with seven centuries and 11 fifties.
- The 119-run partnership between Graeme Smith and de Villiers is the second highest for the third wicket for South Africa in World Cup matches behind the 145-run stand between Daryll Cullinan and Gary Kirsten against UAE in 1996.
Source: CricInfo – February 24, 2011
South Africa captain Graeme Smith was a happy man after his side registered a comprehensive win over West Indies in their opening match of the World Cup on Thursday and praised AB de Villiers for his stellar performance with the bat.
After restricting West Indies to 222, South Africa, riding on de Villiers’ unbeaten 105-ball 107, overhauled the target with seven wickets in hand in 42.5 overs.
“Winning the toss was nice and we started off reasonably well. I am very very happy with the performance,” Smith said after the match.
Even though he scored 45, his stay at the crease was a struggle and Smith admitted that he wasn’t at his fluent best on Thursday and was just trying to give de Villiers company, who was going all guns blazing at the other end.
“My batting wasn’t the best. I have been a little ill coming into the game, so I just wanted to bat through with AB (de Villiers) and build a partnership. AB went faster than run a ball and paced it real well. He played incredibly well. He controlled the innings superbly,” Smith said.
Smith also praised his bowlers for restricting the West Indies to the modest score after they were comfortably placed at 113 for two at one stage.
“Darren Bravo played really well, but we managed to peg it back in the middle. We tried to mix it up in the middle. Once you pick a wicket, you can build pressure and we managed to pick up wickets in clusters,” he said.
His West Indian counterpart Darren Sammy praised young Darren Bravo for his superb 73 that came off 82 balls but said they needed a batsmen to bat till the end.
“We had an opportunity to get a lot more runs. We needed someone to play like AB did for South Africa. But there were a few positives from the match. Darren Bravo played really well and we hope he can continue. We kept losing wickets in clusters, and it did not help,” he said.
West Indies were also done in by an injury to all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, who hurt his knee while bowling and had to be carried off the field.
Bravo is expected to undergo a scan tomorrow after which it will be known whether he will be taking further part in the tournament or not.
“Losing Dwayne was not good for us. We don’t know the extent of the injury yet. Hopefully he’ll be ok,” Sammy said.
Man-of-the-match De Villiers, who played for Delhi Daredevils in the first three editions of the Indian Premier League, said his experience of playing at the Feroze Shah Kotla helped South Africa in Thursday’s match.
“It (prior IPL experience in Delhi) helped a bit. It was my advice to bat second, and that worked for us tonight.”
De Villiers also lauded Pakistan-born South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir (4/41) for his impressive debut.
“I wasn’t timing it in the nets last week, but it came off well tonight. He (Tahir) is an amazing talent and it’s great to have him in the side,” he said.
Source: Times of India – February 24, 2011