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Record-breaking streak for De Villiers

De Villiers went on a record-breaking streak in the second Momentum ODI.

“Records are there to be broken, and I would like to focus more on winning the World Cup than anything else that will mean a lot, but it is a good sensation and I didn’t go out there to break records,” said an elated AB de Villiers, captain of the Proteas One Day side. “I waited for a long time in the changing room and could prepare very well on how I am going to play my game.”

De Villiers rewrote the record books and his name as indelibly in the history of ODI cricket at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium as his team mates had done in the famous 438 match back in 2006 as he produced one of the all-time great innings.

The second Momentum ODI match was played against the West Indies at Bidvest Wanderers on Sunday January 18.

In front of a packed Bull-ring he reached his half-century off just 16 balls to beat the previous best of Sanath Jayasuriya by one delivery, and subsequently went on to reach his century off only 31 balls in great fashion to erase Corey Anderson’s previous world best of 36 balls. In the process he enabled the Castle Lager Proteas to improve on the famous total of 438/9 with an imposing 439/2, which was only four runs short of the 443 scored by Sri Lanka against the Netherlands, but which is the highest total in a match involving two full member nations of the ICC.

His second-wicket partnership with Hashim Amla (192 off 67 balls) came at the incredible rate of 17.19 runs to the over. It was his 19th ODI century and he finished with 149 off 44 balls (9 fours and 16 sixes). His 16 sixes also equalled the world record number of hits out of the ground by Rohit Sharma.

The West Indies made a game reply, but they always looked outgunned in the batting department to go down by 148 runs to give the Proteas a handy 2-0 lead in the five-match series.

De Villiers would be the first to acknowledge the contribution of both Amla and Rilee Rossouw who set the perfect platform for him with a South African record opening stand of 247 in 38.1 overs, improving on the previous best of 235 by Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs against India at Kochi in 2000.

The table was perfectly set for De Villiers and he wasted no time in uncorking the champagne. This was the best display of batting form by De Villiers ever seen on South Africa soil. At this stage praise is streaming in from all sides of world by the cricket fraternity. It hardly mattered where the West Indies bowlers delivered the ball; he had simply made his mind up where he was going to hit it regardless of line or length. As an exponent of the unorthodox he stands supreme in the modern game.

Amla made his 18th ODI century and went on to bat the full 50 overs, finishing unbeaten on 153 (142 balls, 14 fours). This was a career best, improving on his 150 against England at Southampton in 2012. It was typical of Amla that, while De Villiers dazzled anybody in the cricketing world who was privileged to watch him either in the stadium or on TV, he got on with the job in his own unassuming style. He was happy to play the singles to make the AB show possible.

Rossouw’s maiden ODI century (128) came off 115 balls with 11 fours and two sixes. In spite of being overshadowed by what was to follow, it was the innings of the highest significance looking ahead to the World Cup and one of great encouragement to the Proteas that they have a stand-in of this calibre for Quinton de Kock.

As the cherry on the top this was the first instance of three batsmen scoring centuries in the same limited overs innings. The first wicket partnership was the sixth highest of all time, and when last have spectators seen South Africans stand together for the opening partnership till the 38th over in an ODI?

The most remarkable thing about this batting performance was that this was not the same conditions of the 438 match. There was certainly a bit in it up front for the quicker bowlers.

When the West Indies batted, the early loss of Chris Gayle put them under pressure and they lost two wickets for 63 runs in the mandatory power play overs.

In contrast to the earlier batting pyrotechnics, Dale Steyn bowled a remarkable five overs for just 11 runs, and the West Indies went into the last 20 overs needing an almost impossible 250 plus for victory. Steyn finished with the outstanding figures of 1/29 while Morne Morkel took the two wickets he needed to reach the landmark of 150.

Dwayne Smith made top score for the West Indies of 64 and on any normal day their total of 291/7 might have been considered competitive.

With Rossouw having ticked one box for the Proteas World Cup campaign, their strategists would also have been delighted to see Farhaan Behardien picking up a wicket and taking two very good catches.

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