AB de Villiers SSouth Africa kept their record of scoring 300-plus runs intact in this World Cup, whenever they have batted first. UAE were never expected to cause much worry anyway but they caused South Africa some early anxiety. There were some problems attributable to the nature of pitch at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington. In middle overs, UAE slow bowlers dried up the flow of runs on a sluggish pitch for a while. But there was the great de Villiers, who showed the way. Once the captain got out for 99 scored off 82 balls, the tabs were picked up by Farhaan Behardien in later stages. First with JP Duminy and then with Vernon Philander, Behardien smacked UAE bowlers for 3 sixes and 5 fours to remain unbeaten on 64 off 31 balls as South Africa raced to 341/6 in 50 overs. In reply, UAE couldn’t keep pace with the run-rate needed. As usual, Shaiman Anwar played another good innings that was ably complimented by a brave knock from wicketkeeper Swapnil Patil, who remained unbeaten on 57. But UAE were bowled out by South Africans for 195 in the 48th over and yielded an easy 146-run victory for the Proteas.


UAE decided to take the field after winning the toss and met with immediate success. They kept Hashim Amla quiet and took his wicket in the third over. With the ball failing to bounce at Wellington, Amla yielded 13 dot balls out of 16 that he faced and his 12 runs were scored off three hits to the fence. For a change, Quinton de Kock scored some runs but his 26 consumed 45 balls. One-drop batsman Rilee Rossouw also had trouble in negotiating the deliveries and though he could reach 43, he used up 49 balls. 96/3 in the 19th over against UAE could only be termed as poor batting. It was here that AB de Villiers took command and led the recovery with David Miller to take the innings score to 204/4 in the 37th over. AB de Villiers stroked powerfully to finish with 99 off 82 balls that included 6 fours and 4 towering sixes. After the skipper departed at 257 in the 43rd over, Farhaan Behardien ransacked the UAE attack in his 36 minutes stay at the wicket. Behardien struck 5 fours and 3 sixes in his 31-ball blitz that produced 64 and he remained unbeaten in the end. JP Duminy and Vernon Philander also made useful contributions in their short stints at the wicket as South Africa finished with 341/6.


It was never going to be easy for UAE to overhaul the victory target of 342 but they began with an opening stand of 29 in the 7th over. But the slide had to come sooner or later. Amjad Ali and Khurram Khan fell at the same score to make it 45/3 in the 13th over but Shaiman Anwar carried on tenaciously despite the scoring rate coming down continuously. One end was firmly held by wicketkeeper Swapnil Patil and he added 63 with Anwar. But after scoring 39 off 64 balls, Anwar fell as UAE’s fourth wicket in the 30th over. 108/4 soon became 125/6. With Patil and Amjad Javed adding 38 for the seventh wicket, UAE gained some respectability in the score. The remaining batsmen played sketchily and with South African bowling pressure becoming too much, UAE innings came to an end for 95 in the 48th over. Patil remained unbeaten with a brave 57 off 100 balls as South Africa coasted to a comfortable 146 run win.


To the credit of UAE slow bowlers, it must be highlighted that off-spinner Mohammad Tauqir and Amjad Javed were able to weave a spell to keep South Africa quiet until de Villiers arrived in the 17th over. Between over nos. 11-21, Tauqir and Javed conceded just 43 runs. But de Villiers and later Behardien dug South Africa from the slow start and ensured a match winning 341/6.