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You are here: Cricket One Day Internationals Rampant Proteas give AB a runaway start

Rampant Proteas give AB a runaway start

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AB de Villiers could not have hoped for a more successful captaincy debut than the 258 runs winning margin his Proteas' Castle Lager squad achieved in the opening Sunfoil ODI at Boland Park on Wednesday evening. It was the third biggest winning margin in the history of ODI cricket in terms of runs, bettered only by the Proteas' victory by 272 runs over Zimbabwe at Sahara Park Willowmoore last season and New Zealand's victory over Ireland by 290 runs at Aberdeen in 2008.

The Proteas set up a huge total of 301/8 – their fourth highest against Sri Lanka – highlighted by Hashim Amla's ninth ODI century and then destroyed Sri Lanka for the joint fourth lowest total in the history of the game of 43 all out. The innings only lasted 20.1 overs which made it the 15th shortest ODI innings in terms of balls bowled.

In truth the match was finished after 60 of the available 100 overs following a devastating new ball spell from Sunfoil Man of the Match Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe who sent the visitors tumbling to 8/3, 9/5 and eventually 13/6 after 7.5 overs. Morkel finished with a career best 4/10 while Tsotsobe was hot on his heels with 3/19.

JP Duminy started the ball rolling with a brilliant gulley catch to dismiss Upal Tharanga off Morkel and then Tsotsobe produced a superb delivery that swung late and bounced as well to have the visiting captain, Tillekeratne Dilshan, taken behind the stumps by De Villiers. From there on the collapse continued unabated as the Sri Lankan batsmen failed to cope with the bounce obtained by the two spearheads.

The Proteas' attack can now reflect on a giddy couple of months in which they nearly dismissed Australia for a world record low Test score and nearly did the same to Sri Lanka in the ODI arena.

For a long time it looked as though they would not get beyond Zimbabwe's 35 all out against Sri Lanka and they were on the cusp of disaster at 33/8 that could have been 33/9 had the Umpire Decision Review System not come to their rescue.

It is obviously too early to make a call on De Villiers' captaincy but a couple of positives have already emerged. The most important one is that leadership has left his game totally unaffected. His 52 off 40 balls (7 boundaries) was a magnificent and free-flowing effort that built on the second wicket record partnership against Sri Lanka of 144 between Amla and Jacques Kallis.

He also made a very good decision in calling the batting power play after 25 overs. It was a well based decision as it is nearly always easier to score runs at this venue early in the innings rather than at the tail-end and it left Dilshan with a difficult decision of whether to use up valuable overs from his bowling kingpin, Lasith Malinga, or whether to keep him for the final 10.

Dilshan opted for the latter course which was successful in that the Proteas only managed 60/6 in their last 10 overs with Malinga appropriately taking four or more wickets in an innings for the 10th time in his 100th ODI. But, by then, Amla, Kallis and De Villiers had made certain that the batting horse had bolted and there was also a good decision in bringing Albie Morkel up the order to bat at No. 5.

It would be churlish to criticise the Proteas after such an overwhelming performance but there will be lessons to be learned from the batting performance in the final 10 overs. JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis both started their innings at the same stage and this inevitably is always going to cost the batting side a couple of overs.

After from the obvious individual contributions the intensity of both the bowling and the fielding was outstanding.

2012 could not have started on a better note for both the Test and ODI Castle Lager squads.

The decision by Cricket South Africa (CSA) to bring international cricket back to Boland Park for the first time since the ICC World Cup in 2003 also has to be applauded. A crowd of 11 000 packed into the ground and it is obvious that there is a hunger to see the Proteas in every corner of the land.

The organisation was spot on and this is the only South African international venue to be situated in an underprivileged area. As such it was really a case of taking the game to the people.

Boland is a rapidly growing gold mine of talent of all persuasions and backgrounds and the province provides the bulk of the South Africa under-19 pace attack currently playing in a triangular series in the Western Cape against Pakistan and Zimbabwe.