AB, Tahir lead SA to victory
A century from AB de Villiers and four wickets from Imran Tahir helped South Africa to a comfortable seven-wicket win against West Indies in their World Cup Group B match at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, India, on Thursday.
Pakistan-born leg-spinner Tahir, making his first international appearance for his adopted country, finished with figures of four for 41 off 10 overs as the Windies were dismissed for 222 with 15 balls of their innings remaining.
De Villiers then constructed a scintillating innings of 107 not out off 105 deliveries as the Proteas romped to 223 for three with 43 balls left in their innings.
De Villiers played some wonderful shots in bringing up his 10th one-day international ton, with his square, and cover driving being particularly pleasing on the eye as the right-hander helped himself to eight fours and two sixes.
The 27-year-old brought up three figures off 97 balls to register the fastest World Cup century for South Africa, eclipsing the previous fastest, off 98 balls, scored by Jacques Kallis.
De Villiers’s runs came at the right time for South Africa as they made a shaky start to their innings as they slipped to 20 for two.
Hashim Amla (14) was superbly caught down the leg side by a diving keeper Devon Thomas off a delivery from paceman Kemar Roach before Jacques Kallis (four) edged a delivery from left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn to first slip.
But De Villiers and Graeme Smith (45) wrested the initiative away from the Windies with a third-wicket partnership of 119 before Smith was bowled through the gate by medium-pacer Kieron Pollard.
JP Duminy (42 not out) and De Villiers then polished off the necessary runs with a controlled unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 84.
The West Indies’ efforts in the field were hampered by the loss of all-rounder Dwayne Bravo who was forced to leave the field with what appeared to be a knee injury after bowling just 2.1 overs.
South Africa won the toss and elected bat after springing something of a surprise by naming three frontline spinners in their line-up in the form of debutant Tahir, off-spinner Johan Botha and left-armer Robin Peterson.
The 31-year-old Tahir received superb support from pace spearhead Dale Steyn, who claimed three for 24 off 7.3 overs to polish off the tail, while Botha, who opened the bowling, picked up two for 48.
The decision to hand the new ball to Botha proved to be an inspired one as he claimed the wicket of Chris Gayle (two) in the first over, caught at first slip.
Darren Bravo and Devon Smith (36) then combined for a second-wicket stand of 111 off 136 balls as the West Indies looked to have taken control of the match.
The left-handed Darren Bravo was in superb form as he blazed his way to 73 off 82 balls but, after striking eight fours and a six, he departed when he was trapped leg-before by Botha.
Bravo did ask for the decision to be reviewed but replays showed that the on-field umpire had made the right decision and the West Indies were reduced to 113 for two.
Tahir’s final return made all the more remarkable as he conceded 11 runs off his second over at the height of Darren Bravo’s knock.
A collapse ensued after Darren Bravo’s departure with the men from the Caribbean slipping to 120 for four with Tahir claiming his first international wicket when he removed Smith courtesy of a caught and bowled effort.
Dwayne Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (31) then steadied the innings with a fifth-wicket stand of 58.
Dwayne Bravo looked in a destructive mood as he belted his way to 40 off 37 balls but he was run out at the non-striker’s end after Chanderpaul had reverse-swept a Peterson delivery straight to Morne Morkel at short third man and set off for a suicidal single.
Bravo’s dismissal instigated a second collapse as the West Indies lost their last six wickets for just 44 runs.
Tahir had Chanderpaul caught at long-off before Thomas (15), the only other man to reach double figures, was caught at mid-off off the same bowler.
Steyn then took centre stage as he claimed three wickets in 2.3 overs as the West Indies challenge fell away.
"Winning the toss was nice and we started well," said South African captain Smith. "We managed to peg them back in the middle. Once you pick a wicket, you can build pressure and we managed to pick up wickets in clusters.
"I just wanted to bat through with AB and build a partnership. AB went faster than run a ball and paced it really well."
"We had an opportunity to get a lot more runs," said West Indies captain Darren Sammy.
"There were a few positives, Darren Bravo played really well and we hope he can continue like this. But we kept losing wickets and it did not help."
South Africa’s next match in the tournament is on March 3 against the Netherlands while West Indies play on March 4 against Bangladesh.
South Africa - Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Robin Peterson, Johan Botha, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.
West Indies - Chris Gayle, Devon Smith, Darren Bravo, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy (capt), Devon Thomas (wk), Kemar Roach, Sulieman Benn.