CRICKET : AB de Villiers struck a memorable fourth one-day international hundred to help South Africa equal the record total at Newlands.
AB de Villiers struck a memorable fourth one-day international hundred to help South Africa equal the record total at Newlands.
Openers Hashim Amla (86) and Graeme Smith (54) provided the platform but it was De Villiers (121) who was the enforcer with some increasingly inventive strokeplay as the hosts racked up 354 for six in the third match of the series.
De Villiers came to the crease in the 19th over, after a 107-run opening stand, and by the 44th was into three figures with 10 fours from only 75 balls.
Among them was a “ramp” shot off Stuart Broad (four for 71) over fine third-man, which was the signal for he and Alviro Petersen (51no) to up the ante in the batting powerplay.
Statistics overwhelmingly dictate that batting first in day-night cricket is a recipe for success here, meaning Smith had perhaps done the hard work by winning the toss. Under cloudless skies, he and Amla quickly set about converting that advantage on a pitch apparently made for batsmen.
After setting two slips for the first two overs, the mandatory catching fielders were quickly moved in front of the wicket, Andrew Strauss apparently giving up on any sideways movement.
Amla’s timing and placement allowed him to almost keep pace with his captain, who was soon pulling and driving boundaries.
England delayed their fielding powerplay until the 17-over mark and Smith’s wicket fell conveniently soon afterwards when he backed away to scythe new bowler Luke Wright through the off-side, only to get a thin edge onto his stumps. The run-a-ball scoring rate did not suffer, however, as De Villiers joined Amla for a seamless transition.
An over later Amla had his 50 and he threatened a hundred only to get an under-edge on an attempted pull at Broad to be caught behind. JP Duminy could not get going in a passage of play when England’s bowlers, notably Graeme Swann, tried with partial success to put the brakes on.
But after the left-hander holed out on the pull, De Villiers had one escape on 77 with Paul Collingwood missing with an attempted direct hit from point. De Villiers finally mistimed a drive to be caught off Broad but 109 runs still came in the last 10 overs to leave England needing a record ODI run chase to win.