We have lift-off!

2011-02-26 16:05

A top-class century by AB de Villiers, a ­stunning debut by Imran Tahir and a generally fresh approach meant South Africa ­enjoyed a perfect start to the World Cup when they beat the West Indies by seven wickets in their opening match in New ­Delhi.

A quick flight across the state of Haryana to Chandigarh now awaits the South Africans tomorrow as they prepare for their next outing, against the Netherlands on Thursday.

Although the Dutch are officially classified as one of the minnows at the World Cup, they put on a tremendous show against ­England in their opening match, thanks to a classy century of their own by South ­African-born Ryan ten Doeschate.

The West Indies match was a very useful warm-up for the Proteas and Graeme Smith’s men were able to cope with the pressure.

Darren Bravo played a dazzling innings to put the West Indies in charge, before South Africa’s fight-back was begun by Imran Tahir and completed by Dale Steyn.

Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis both suffered rare failures as the Proteas slipped to 20 for two, and both batsmen will be looking to regain their status against the Dutch. If Faf du ­Plessis can also get some runs, it will only amplify the feeling that South ­Africa have one of the most powerful, in-form top sixes in the competition.

One of the less obvious positives to come out of the West Indies match was the ­excellent batting of JP Duminy, who looked extremely comfortable as he eased to 42 not out off 53 balls.

The Mohali pitch will hopefully be friendly to the South African pacemen.

The last ­international match played there was the ­thrilling Test between India and Australia last October, in which the fast bowlers took 25 of the 39 wickets to fall as the hosts scraped home by one wicket.

The last ODI there was nearly a year ­earlier when India opted to chase under lights against Australia and rushed to a 24-run ­defeat by pace bowlers Doug Bollinger and Shane Watson.

Thursday’s game will be a day-game, ­however, and the Proteas’ only selection ­conundrum would seem to be whether to recall pace bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who has been in fine form.

The Netherlands’ bowlers will not be as much of a threat as those of the West Indies, so it could be another very good day for the Proteas’ batsmen.

MWP Media

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