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South Africa surged to the top of Group B at the ICC Cricket World Cup when they overwhelmed the Netherlands by 231 runs â€“ the fourth biggest winning margin in World Cup history â€“ at Mohali on Thursday. South Africa now have maximum points from their first two matches plus a hugely positive net run rate of 2.76 and a bucket load of confidence going into their third match against England at Chennai on Sunday.
Apart from the opening 15 overs when the Proteas, put into bat, had to battle their way through conditions that assisted seam and swing following early morning rain, they were in total command throughout the match. After 15 overs and three balls (including the bowling power play) South Africa had lost both Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis in putting a modest 58 runs on the board.
But the match changed forever with the arrival of AB de Villiers at the crease. He won his second successive Man of the Match award and set up the Proteas' record total for this particular ground of 351/5 in a third wicket partnership of 221 with Hashim Amla.
De Villiers (134 off 98 balls with 13 fours and 4 sixes before he needlessly ran himself out) and Amla (117 off 130 balls with 8 fours) scored their 11th and 8th ODI century respectively. De Villiers is the first South African to score two centuries at a single World Cup and he has now eclipsed the record of Herschelle Gibbs (2 centuries) with his 3 World Cup centuries for the Proteas.
The manner in which he dominated is clearly demonstrated: The Proteas scored 225 runs while he was at the crease and he got 134 of them. The third-wicket partnership went past several previous marks: the SA record for the 3rd wicket against the Netherlands was previously 105 (Gibbs and Kallis), SA's third wicket World Cup record was 145 (Gary Kirsten and Daryll Cullinan), the Mohali 3rd wicket record was 153 (Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga for Sri Lanka), and the South African 3rd wicket record was 217 (De Villiers and JP Duminy earlier this season against Zimbabwe).
To complete a very positive day for the Proteas, De Villiers led the way hitting 3 successive sixes in one over and 3 successive fours in the next to enable the side to score 136 in the last 10 overs. This included 69/2 in the batting power play which was the second best for the tournament behind the 70 scored by Pakistan against Kenya.
Duminy carried on where De Villiers left off hitting 40 off just 15 balls with 2 fours and 4 sixes. This must have dispelled the notion that the Proteas lack power hitters in the middle order. De Villiers had a strike rate of 136.73, Faf du Plessis 128.57 and Duminy 266.66!
If there was any prospect of the Netherlands repeating the batting heroics of Ireland the previous day they were quickly shut down as the only managed 44/1 in the opening 10 overs and 55/2 by the end of the bowling power play. Kallis was particularly impressive in taking a lively 2/19 in 6 overs.
Thereafter it was over to the spinners. Johan Botha dropped out of the starting line-up to make room for Morne van Wyk and his off spinning role fell to Duminy. The three spinners took a collective 6/57 in 17.5 overs as Netherlands lost their last 8 wickets for just 39 runs.
There was a direct run out for Smith while Dale Steyn took the important wicket of Ryan ten Doeschate.
Imran Tahir had the best figures of 3/19 in 6.5 overs and has now taken a collective 7/60 in his two World Cup matches. This amounts to a strike rate of a fraction over 14 balls per wicket.
De Villiers did not field because of a recurring back strain suffered while batting. This was a precaution with the England game coming up on Sunday.
â€œI'm enjoying my batting at the momentâ€, commented De Villiers. â€œI've worked really hard to get into this kind of form again. I've been struggling a little bit with the India series back home but it's great to be back to some good form.â€
While South Africa are in action again in a few days, the Dutch have a bit of a break to mull over their predicament at the bottom of Group B. After a promising opening match against England, everything has gone downhill for the Netherlands, and it won't get any easier for them when they collide against co-hosts India next Wednesday at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.
South Africa - Smith (capt), Amla, Kallis, De Villiers, Duminy, Du Plessis, Van Wyk (wk), Morkel, Steyn, Tahir, Peterson.
Netherlands - Kervezee, Barresi (wk), Cooper, Ten Doeschate, Zuiderent, De Grooth, Borren (capt), Bukhari, Seelaar, Loots, Westdijk.
South Africa 351/5 in 50 overs (7.02 runs per over)
Hashim Amla 113 (130) Ryan ten Doeschate 3-72
AB de Villiers 134 (98) Bernardus Loots 1-60
Netherlands 120 all out in 34.5 overs (3.44 runs per over)
Wesley Barresi 44 (66) Imran Tahir 3-19
Bas Zuiderent 15 (26) Jacques Kallis 2-19
File Photograph Copyright: ICC World T20
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