03 March 2015
Amla, du Plessis sparkle in big win
South Africa powers to 411/4 before bowlers, led by Kyle Abbott, end Ireland innings at 210
South Africa had got its campaign back on track and given its net run-rate a significant boost.
The day had started promisingly for Ireland as Quinton de Kock got a thin edge to a John Mooney delivery that slanted across him and after a review, Ireland had its first wicket. Mooney bowled impeccably from one end, but Max Sorensen, at the other end, struggled from the outset.
Amla had started off with an on-drive and a lofted shot through point that just evaded William Porterfield, and got lucky when he was dropped at 10. Kevin O’Brien had replaced Sorensen, and Amla flicked his first delivery to short midwicket where Ed Joyce couldn’t hold on. A cut for four and a peachy cover drive in the same over followed.
Du Plessis also had his moment of luck, when on 19. Paul Stirling had come on to bowl his off-breaks, and Kevin O’Brien came up at the wrong time at slip as du Plessis edged one. After that, even half-chances were at a premium as Amla and du Plessis wrested complete control.
Amla was imperious on the offside, driving and cutting with power and timing, while du Plessis tended to favour the legside, with pulls, flicks and heaves as the bowlers repeatedly erred in length. George Dockrell was economical, but both men eased to their half-centuries at almost a run a ball.
Sorensen’s return to the attack signalled a change of gear, as Amla took sixes over wide long-on and extra cover before du Plessis finished a 24-run over with a clean strike over long-on. Amla’s 20th ODI hundred – it took him just 108 innings, 25 fewer than Virat Kohli – took exactly 100 balls, and du Plessis soon followed, having faced just three deliveries more.
Mooney’s first spell had been 5-2-9-1, but when he was recalled, his first over went for 27, as Amla pulled for four and six before a scythe to third man and a lovely loft over cover left Ireland reeling.
Kevin O’Brien finally got du Plessis with a yorker that he played all over, but with AB de Villiers starting with a cover-driven four and a swept six off Dockrell, it was clear that there would be no respite. South Africa took 69 from the Batting Power Play, and though de Villiers miscued a reverse sweep to backward point soon after Amla mishit one to long-on – both off Andy McBrine – Rilee Rossouw and David Miller muscled their team past 400 for the second straight game.
Rossouw, who had struck a 31-ball half-century against West Indies, smashed 61 from 30 balls (five fours and three sixes), while Miller finished with 46 from just 23. The two added an unbeaten 110 from just 51 balls as South Africa rattled off 131 runs in the last ten overs.
Ireland needed to stave off the new ball to have any chance of getting close, but Dale Steyn and Abbott effectively ended the contest within the first Power Play. Stirling played two sublime cover drives before Steyn summoned up a snorter that took the edge and was given out after a review.
Du Plessis, at short midwicket, smartly took Porterfield’s push to Abbott at shin height, while Ed Joyce edged Steyn to Amla at first slip. Amla was in the fray again when Niall O’Brien went for a cut too close to his body off Abbott’s bowling. De Kock couldn’t hold on, but Amla juggled the deflection and held it under his armpit.
When Abbott trapped Gary Wilson, the key player in Ireland’s run chase against UAE, in front, Ireland was 48 for 5 in the 11th over. There would be no way back. Andy Balbirnie and Kevin O’Brien started uncertainly, but then settled down to add 81 at better than five an over.
Balbirnie played some fine cuts and also worked the ball well off his pads, while O’Brien was at his best when powering the ball through the leg side. While they were out there, Ireland had a decent chance of damage limitation. But then, Morne Morkel tempted Balbirnie into a pull that went straight to Rossouw at deep midwicket. His 58 had spanned 71 balls.
De Villiers gave overs to Farhaan Behardien, du Plessis and Rossouw, but it was when he brought himself on that South Africa got its next wicket. John Mooney chopped a wide one on, prompting both celebration and delight. Minutes later, O’Brien’s 65-ball 48 ended when he pulled Abbott into the deep, where Rossouw ran around to take a fine catch.
Cameos from Dockrell and Sorensen brought down the margin of defeat, but with a win that was stil massive, South Africa had got its campaign back on track and given its net run-rate a significant boost.
Australia marches to record win
South Africa v Ireland Preview, Match 24, Canberra