Proteas gun for Ireland

2015-03-02 18:00

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The Proteas will hope for more of the magic they produced in their 257-run win over the West Indies on Friday when they take on Ireland at the Manuka Oval in Canberra, Australia, tomorrow.

The Irish attack may not be quite as good as the Windies’, but our boys need to be wary of spinner George Dockrell, who has a knack for tripping up bigger sides.

It remains to be seen whether JP Duminy will return to the line-up. If he does, it will probably be at the expense of Farhaan Behardien, given that the all-rounder didn’t even bowl on Friday.

The selectors will be hard-pressed to justify dropping Rilee Rossouw, after his outstanding performance against the Windies. The injured Vernon Philander is not yet in contention.

There were so many records broken and milestones reached against the West Indies, but none eclipsed the special innings of AB de Villiers.

His 162 not out (66 balls) was the fastest 150 in ODI history, coming off just 64 balls, and gave the world number one ODI batsman the honour of holding the record for the fastest 50, 100 and 150 in the 50-over format, all at the same time.

Having lost to India on Sunday as the top order were scuttled out cheaply, the Proteas were under pressure going into this encounter. But the Windies bowling, as was the case in January, proved to be cannon fodder for the likes of De Villiers, Hashim Amla and Rossouw.

West Indies skipper Jason Holder went for a new World Cup record of 104 runs in his 10 overs, with De Villiers smashing him for 75 runs in his last three overs alone.

He also now has the dubious honour of having gone for the most runs in two consecutive ODI overs, 64, beating the 49 runs England’s Steve Finn conceded against New Zealand last week.

The Proteas got off to a solid start before Chris Gayle, fresh off his double ton against Zimbabwe, did the job of removing both set batsmen in the same over, with Du Plessis nicking off for 62 and Amla trapped plumb in front for 65. The pair had put on a century stand after Quinton de Kock had been dismissed for 12 early on. As it turned out, though, losing them was a blessing in disguise.

De Villiers and Rossouw went on the rampage and also recorded a triple-figure partnership. Their 100 came off just 60 balls, with Rossouw contributing 61 off 39 deliveries.

De Villiers picked up the pace after Rossouw was caught behind with David Miller and Behardien left with precious little to do at the other end. The last 3.2 overs saw South Africa score 80 runs, of which Behardien made 10.

The 408 for five the Proteas compiled was the highest ODI score on Australian soil and the second highest in World Cups.

Gayle was removed for three by Kyle Abbott and the Durban man then bagged Marlon Samuels for a duck. Imran Tahir, on his way to a maiden ODI five-fer, then removed Dwayne Smith and Lendl Simmons in consecutive deliveries to leave the Windies reeling.

At one stage, Tahir had four wickets for five runs, once again showing that batsmen underestimate him at their peril. The Proteas’ best ODI bowler eventually ended with figures of 5/45.

The match was wrapped up after a bit of a tail wag, as Holder tried to redeem himself with the bat. He made 56 with the bat before becoming Dale Steyn’s lone wicket and then Morné Morkel struck in the 34th over to put the Windies out of their misery.

The winning margin is the joint-biggest in World Cup history, the same as India’s demolition job on Bermuda in 2007.

With the Proteas expected to bag two points against Ireland, as well as against Pakistan and the UAE, they should be in a favourable position heading into the quarterfinals.

There is still a slim chance that they could seize top spot from India, who crushed the UAE by nine wickets yesterday morning.

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