12 March 2015
De Villiers stars in South Africa win
Behardien’s late blitz carries team to 341/6 before bowlers combine to earn 146-run win over UAE
South Africa emerged victorious by a 146-run margin, formalising its entry into the quarter-final stage.
Tauqir raised quite a few eyebrows therefore by choosing to bowl first upon winning the toss on a beautiful batting strip at the Wellington stadium on Thursday (March 12), but his bowlers did reasonably well to keep South Africa to well under 400. Indeed, had it not been for a late blitz by Farhaan Behardien that brought 41 runs in the last 13 deliveries of the innings, South Africa might have finished a fair few short of 341 for 6.
UAE was never in the hunt at any stage, their final tally of 195 giving South Africa victory by 146 runs and formalising their entry into the quarterfinal stage, against opponents as yet undecided.
Behardien provided the final thrust with an unbeaten 31-ball 64, building furiously on another beautifully compiled knock from AB de Villiers, the South African captain, who has taken batting in 50-over cricket to a new level. Alongside David Miller, de Villiers rebuilt as South Africa wobbled at 96 for 3, then exploded after being put down on 63 by Amjad Javed on his follow through. He was desperately unlucky to miss out on his second hundred of the competition, ironically smartly caught for 99 by Javed at short third man, though by then, he had treated a very small gathering in the New Zealand capital to another top-class innings.
UAE’s task has got increasingly more difficult as the tournament has progressed. It began with narrow losses to Afghanistan and Ireland, before running into the big boys. A target of 342 was going to be a challenge, especially with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander – back in the XI at the expense of Kyle Abbott after recovering from the hamstring strain that forced him to go off the field against India nearly three weeks ago – and Imran Tahir, the leg-spinner, to contend with.
Shaiman Anwar batted with confidence like he has throughout the tournament and Swapnil Patil was defiant in making a measured half-century, but UAE could only reach 195 for 9. Fahad Alhashmi could not come out to bat after injuring his knee while bowling.
Morkel produced a snorter to account for Andri Berenger, brilliantly caught by Rilee Rossouw running to his left and diving full length, to begin the South African charge during a fantastic first spell when he kept pushing the batsmen back with his pace and bounce. Amjad Ali and Khurram Khan followed a little later in successive overs, leaving Anwar to wage a solitary battle.
UAE’s only World Cup centurion produced some excellent strokes, but when he fell to Tahir, the Asian side was in trouble. De Villiers, not satisfied with his work with the bat, returned with the ball to evict Saqlain Haider and Javed.
Earlier, South Africa began poorly, Hashim Amla the first to depart, top-edging a pull off Naveed in the third over. Quinton de Kock got into double figures for the first time in five innings, but threw it all away, and Rossouw failed to cash in on the hard work by tamely pushing Tauqir’s off-spin back to the bowler.
Enter Miller to stage another rescue act in de Villiers’s company. De Villiers has been South Africa’s standout batsman and Miller an able understudy in this World Cup. During their fifth century stand in ODIs, the right-left pair steadied the ship without fuss, keeping up a good rate of scoring despite not striking one ball in anger. They had their fair share of luck, too. Miller survived a run-out scare when 7, and was put down on 20 by Tauqir, but put those mishaps behind him to help his skipper add 108 for the fourth wicket in 107 deliveries when he was bowled by Naveed.
In the next over, Javed grassed de Villiers, signalling the beginning of a familiar routine of the ball disappearing to all corners of the park. 63 off 66 at that stage, de Villiers celebrated the reprieve with a towering six next ball over midwicket and raced to 99 off 81 when he sliced Kamran Shazad to short third man.
De Villiers walked off with a wry grin, but there was no respite for UAE as Behardien launched a sensational assault. His second ODI fifty came off just 28 deliveries and he smashed 25 off the last over bowled by Javed as South Africa piled up 143 in the last 15 overs. The total proved too much for UAE.
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