AB and Amla Show moves to Jozi

South Africa go into the second one-day international (ODI) today against the West Indies at the Wanderers in Joburg with momentum on their side after returning senior players propelled them to a 61-run win in a rain-affected fixture in Durban on Friday.

The Proteas had recorded 279 for eight in 48.2 overs, thanks in large part to their well-rested senior batsmen, and only a flurry of wickets near the end prevented a more substantial score before rain ended the innings.

After the downpour, the visitors were set a revised target of 229 in 33 overs. Aside from an early Chris Gayle blitz, the islanders were poor with the bat and gave their wickets away. They were all out for 164 in the 29th over.

Fortunately for the Proteas, Gayle did not have quite the same impact as he did in the T20 series. The big West Indies opener was removed by Dale Steyn for 41, with the visitors on 51 after six overs.

AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla are as important to the Proteas as Gayle is to the West Indies. Many fans of the green-and-gold would have asked on the night, while twiddling their thumbs during the rain delay at Kingsmead, just what the Proteas would do without the prolific batsmen.

De Villers and Amla, the world’s first- and third-ranked ODI batsmen, had been rested in the T20 series and their absence was keenly felt.

Their experience was vital on Friday, as it will be today at the Wanderers.

After losing two wickets for just 16 runs, the top dogs were required to save the day once again.

Given that the injured Quinton de Kock averages 43.58 in the format and is still in the World Cup squad, it’s fair to say that fans will be desperate for him to regain fitness as soon as possible and bring some solidity to the top of the order.

Once Faf du Plessis, who must consider himself an opener these days, given how soon he comes in, was removed for a duck, Amla and AB proceeded to put on a big partnership.

They added 99 runs in the next 15 overs, with Amla’s half-ton coming at better than a run a ball.

The Bearded One was run out for 66, leaving De Villiers, who made 81, to bat on with David Miller, who also had a lot to prove.

He showed, as he had in the third T20, that he’s capable of big runs when he’s afforded time at the crease. He’s not a one-dimensional slogger, but has the batting chops to come in earlier and score a lot of runs.

As for the Windies’ chase, it soon became clear that if Gayle doesn’t do it, it’s not going to get done.

This will be worrying for the visitors, given they haven’t won a game on this tour when he wasn’t in the side.

On the bowling front, Tahir was particularly impressive, as he tends to be in the shorter formats, and used the strong wind to good effect in bagging three important wickets.

He may not receive as much assistance from the elements in Joburg, but his confidence will be high after his efforts.

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