After Hashim Amla emerged as the fastest batsman to reach 5000 ODI runs at Durban, AB de Villiers created history at Wanderers by notching up a 31-ball hundred. At both venues, West Indies lost heavily and conceded a 0-2 series lead to the hosts. de Villiers was the top scorer in the first ODI, in which South Africa ended up at 279/8. Rain delay, thereafter, forced the winning target for the West Indies to be adjusted to 226 in 32 overs. However, the West Indies batting collapsed once Chris Gayle got out after a whirlwind 41 off 24 balls. In the end, South Africa won by 61 runs. Two days later at Wanderers, West Indies suffered even worse fate. South Africa posted a massive 439/2 in 50 overs, helped by centuries from Hashim Amla, Rilee Rossouw and de Villiers. These batsmen slaughtered the West Indies bowling at will. When the West Indians came on to bat, they didn’t know what to do. They scored 291/7 and still lost the match by a whopping 148-run margin. AB de Villiers was rightly named as the player of the match in both ODI games. After such heavy battering, West Indies will look for whatever inspiration they can derive in the remaining three matches of the series.
In the first ODI at Kingsmead Durban on January 16, South Africa chose to bat first after winning the toss. After two wickets fell early, Hashim Amla and de Villiers collected 99 runs for the third wicket before Amla got out. But by then, the bearded South African had already surpassed the fastest 5000 ODI runs in his 101st innings. After Amla’s departure, de Villiers and David Miller added 123 and despite 5 wickets having been lost in scoring just 34, South African total reached a challenging 279/8.
After nearly a three-hour rain interruption, West Indies’ target was fixed at 226 off 32 overs. As they began the chase, West Indies’ only chance rested on Chris Gayle, who smashed the South African bowling while he stayed. But once he got out at 41 off 24 balls, run-making became difficult. After the sixth over, West Indies collapsed to 89/4 in the 15th over. Later West Indies lost their last 6 wickets for just 46 runs as the batsmen couldn’t negotiate the googlies from Imran Tahir. It took South Africa just 28.2 overs to bowl out the visitors and win the match by 61 runs.
In the second ODI at the Wanderers on January 18, West Indies won the toss and asked South Africa to bat. They lost the match with that decision as the opening pair of Hashim Amla and Rilee Rossouw produced a 247-run first wicket partnership in the 39th over. When de Villiers joined Amla, he had a perfect platform to go for whatever adventure he felt like. The South African captain chanced his arms and began breaking one record after another. First de Villiers reached 50 off 16 balls to break Sanath Jayasuriya’s 19 year old record of 17-ball fifty against Pakistan. He kept banging the desolate West Indies bowlers and reached the century mark in just 31 balls to overtake Corey Anderson’s 36-ball century against West Indies last year. de Villiers didn’t stop there. He produced unforeseen improvisation and equaled the world record of 16 sixes in an ODI game. He would have broken another record for the fastest 150 in ODI’s held by Shane Watson, who did so in 83 balls. But de Villiers got out for 149 in the last over after playing 44 deliveries. Interestingly, the not-out batsman Amla had scored only 4 runs more than his skipper by consuming almost 100 deliveries more. As for poor Rossouw, no one talked about his 115-ball 128. South Africa’s 439/2 was too monumental for a successful chase by West Indies. This was also South Africa’s highest 50-over score of all time. Incidentally, they had made 438 against Australia in 2006 on the same ground.
West Indies began by hitting up 36 in the 5th over and as Gayle fell early, the steam went out of the chase. Although Smith, Samuels, Ramdin and Carter made useful scores, 440 was too tall an order. To West Indies’ credit, they could reach 291 even when Gayle didn’t get among the runs. The match that was lost with the toss, officially ended with a 148-run defeat for the demoralized visitors from Caribbean as South Africa took a 2-0 lead in the 5-match ODI series.