That the ball sails a long way in Johannesburg due to the altitude is well known. That the pitch offers even bounce and good pace for the batsmen to play their strokes, particularly in One-Day Internationals, is a given. But the kind of dominance displayed by AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla on Sunday (January 18) would have taken even the most demanding batting conditions out of the equation.
Amla recorded his highest ODI score, an unbeaten 153, while de Villiers smashed the fastest ODI ton off just 31 balls as South Africa registered a 148-run victory over West Indies at the Wanderers to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
De Villiers strolled out to bat at No. 3 after the openers – Amla and Rilee Rossouw – put on a mammoth 247 for the first wicket. Rossouw blazed his way to a 115-ball 128, his first international century, to set the foundation for a late onslaught. With just 11.3 overs left, de Villiers had the authority and freedom to express himself right from the outset.
He did so in majestic fashion, hitting nine fours and equalling Rohit Sharma’s record of 16 sixes, the most in an ODI innings. He finally perished for 149 in the final over to Andre Russell. Amla also chipped in with an unbeaten 153 as South Africa posted 439 for 2. after it was sent in to bat.
In response, Chris Gayle briefly tantalised the taste buds with a couple of lusty blows. But once he departed in the fifth over, the task become more uphill.
The loss of two quick wickets forced Dwayne Smith to curb his natural game. The muscular opener made an attractive 65-ball 64 and was supported by Marlon Samuels (40), Denesh Ramdin (57) and Jonathan Carter (40). But none of the batsmen could get off the blocks quickly as South Africa’s target seemed a distant dream.
But the day was all about the man who makes the impossible possible. De Villiers went to fifty off just 16 balls, one fewer than Sanath Jayasuriya’s previous record for the fastest fifty for Sri Lanka against Pakistan in 1996 in Singapore. He then powered his way past Corey Anderson’s record for the fastest ton.
De Villiers took five balls fewer than Anderson’s hundred for New Zealand against West Indies in Queenstown in January last year. The ferocity of the knock was such that Gayle, who played a match-winning Twenty20 International innings at the same venue last week, bowed in salute as de Villiers went past him.
De Villiers had a ripple effect on Amla, who played some eye-catching strokes soon after getting to his 18th ODI century as Jerome Taylor, easily the quickest of the West Indies bowlers, was in for special punishment as both batsmen used his pace superbly to send the ball soaring over the ropes with regularity.
Between them, Taylor and Jason Holder, the West Indies captain, conceded 186 off their 20 overs. However, Sulieman Benn, the left-arm spinner, finished with figures of 1 for 49 off his 10 overs. But that wasn’t enough to stop a marauding de Villiers who kept the West Indies bowlers, scorers, statisticians and spectators on their toes.
Along the way, South Africa went past its own previous highest total – the 438 for 9 it scored in a record chase against Australia in March 2006. To see the full scorecard of the match between South Africa and West Indies in Johannesburg, please click here.