As easy as AB, see!

2009-11-28 00:00

ON the back of a scintillating AB de Villiers century, South Africa trounced England by 112 runs last night to level the ODI series at one apiece.

Graeme Smith called it a complete performance, and South Africa’s decision to play specialist speedsters Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell was also vindicated, as they nabbed eight wickets between them.

But the star of the show was De Villiers, who finally produced the goods against England in ODIs.

His previous best against the Poms was 42, but he set the record straight with a remarkable 121 off just 85 balls.

The most impressive aspect of De Villiers’s stunning knock was the apparent lack of effort, as he treated the Newlands crowd to a masterclass performance at number three.

The tone was set from the time Smith won a crucial toss and batted.

He and Hashim Amla rattled up a century opening stand, and from there the writing was on the wall.

On an outstanding batting strip, the Proteas seemed unstoppable at times as Amla, Smith and Alviro Pietersen chipped in with half-centuries to supplement De Villiers’s glittering ton.

Such was the control in the Proteas’ batting, that the first — and only — six of their innings was hit by Mark Boucher after 300 had been reached.

De Villiers racked up his fourth ODI century off just 75 balls, and it was decorated with some spanking shots all over the park.

The South Africans equalled their joint highest score at Newlands, although 354 against England is a lot more impressive than the same score against Kenya.

The SA bowling was just as impressive, with Parnell marking his return with a haul of 5/48.

The impact of Morkel’s return would have given Smith the most joy, however.

The beanpole Titan is as erratic as he is dangerous, but last night he showed encouraging control and he regularly nudged the 150 km/h mark on his way to 3/39.

Such was his impact that he had the incomparable Geoffrey Boycott purring — which is no easy feat in itself.

England’s chase never really got going, but there was a brief flicker of hope when Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood were at the crease.

Pietersen’s downfall was the beginning of the end, though, as he was bowled round his legs by the useful off-spin of JP Duminy.

Collingwood’s excellent 86 was a lone hand and when he holed out the contest was already over.

Last night’s showing was proof that specialists can get the job done just as well as the “bits and pieces” cricketers.

South Africa ditched Albie Morkel, preferring Ryan McLaren’s bowling. And it paid dividends, as the attack had variation and a fair amount of pace.

There is little time for celebration, however, as these two meet again tomorrow morning at St George’s.

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