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Home > Cricket > The Cup > Report

De Villiers powers SA past Windies

Prem Panicker | April 10, 2007 21:20 IST
Last Updated: April 11, 2007 03:26 IST

Scorecard | Images

The West Indies were all but eliminated from the World Cup after losing to South Africa by 67 runs in a Super Eights match on Tuesday.

A superb knock of 146 off 130 balls from AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis' 81 saw South Africa post 356 for four.

In reply, although Ramnaresh Sarwan scored 92, Brian Lara's team could only muster 289 for nine and suffered its fourth successive defeat in the tournament.

South Africa innings

"Sources close to a disgruntled player" have not yet weighed in on the subject, so we don't quite know who said what to Jacques Kallis after a painfully slow batting display or two earlier (think in particular of the game against Australia) in the tournament.

One thing is clear -- Kallis has gotten the message, loud and clear, and supersized his batting to a scarcely credible degree.

The giant right-hander decisively turned the tide of the South African innings in the 14th over, when Brian Lara brought on Dwayne Bravo for the increasingly expensive, rapidly tiring Darren Powell.

The batsman stayed back to shorten length and cracked him through point, eased onto the front foot and launched him into the stands behind long on, walked out to the bowler and flicked him off his pads through midwicket, then stayed back again and played a murderous pull through wide midwicket. 18 came in the over, and the conches and trumpets that had finally been allowed back into West Indies grounds went conspicuously quiet.

It was AB de Villiers who set up the push. Powell had bowled brilliantly all through, causing problems with pace, movement either way, and the occasional unexpected bouncer.

His fiery opening spell, which Graeme Smith found difficult to negotiate, earned an early wicket for his opening partner Corey Colleymore. Unable to get Powell away (3 runs in 12 balls faced), Smith tried to target the slower-paced Colleymore and in the 7th over, gave him the charge.

There was more desperation than conviction in the charge; Colleymore angled the ball away from the left hander, and the flailing bat merely managed to edge the ball through to Denesh Ramdhin (8/22; 21/1).

De Villiers waited till the 10th over, surviving his share of edges and misses, before switching to the sort of batting that had given Australia considerable heartburn. He first smashed Powell behind point, then came skipping down the track like Smith and, unlike his captain, connected with the heave over the infield and to the midwicket boundary. In the next Powell over, de Villiers met him with a crashing pull through midwicket, before handing the onus of run-making to his partner; Kallis promptly caressed Powell through the covers and forced Lara to take him off the firing line.

Lara was forced to withhold his second power play and look to check the pace of run scoring; de Villiers and Kallis (the latter battling ligament damage on his left ankle -- which doesn't seem to have affected his batting, but could still inhibit his bowling) took to working the ball around to keep the score ticking along with some quick singles.

The period underlined one reason why the West Indies hasn't made much headway in this tournament -- unlike some of the more fancied teams, their ground fielding, and throwing, leave considerable scope for betterment -- in the space of a single over, de Villiers twice escaped being run out by half the length of the pitch (the corollary to that is that the calling between the two Proteas batsmen wasn't close to optimal).

Lara's insistence on keeping Bravo on, and the bowler's insistence on bowling six slower balls an over (in passing, if most of your deliveries are 'slower', is there a case for suggesting that is in fact your normal speed?) cost the West Indies when, in the 20th over, de Villiers waited an eternity for one such, and cracked it behind point and, to the very next ball -- surprise, surprise, another 'slower ball' -- leaned forward to get under it and power it over the long on boundary, a shot that got the batsman to 52 off just 54 deliveries).

A couple of overs later, Kallis got to his 50, off 46 deliveries -- and at the halfway stage, the worries are multiplying for Brian Lara. There are two well-set batsmen at the crease; that is one. There is a power play still to be used, and that is a huge one. He does not have the restrictive services of Marlon Samuels, who he likes to use to take the pace off and bring run-scoring down. And there is still Gibbs, healed from his calf niggle, Prince, Loots Bosman, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock, and Andrew Hall to come, all of whom can hit the ball with some vim.

Bowling first on winning the toss is already beginning to look like a dodgy option; the West Indies will have to bowl and field brilliantly from here to pull this back.

Progression: Overs 1-25

5 overs: 18/0 @ 3.60 (AB de Villiers 7/14; Graeme Smith 7/16)

10 overs: 36/1 @ 3.60 (de Villiers 20/29; Kallis 4/9)

15 overs: 86/1 @ 5.73 (de Villiers 33/43; Kallis 40/25)

20 overs: 113/1 @ 5.60 (de Villiers 53/61; Kallis 46/38)

25 overs: 131/1 @ 5.20 (de Villiers 61/76; Kallis 54/53)

Overs 26 - 50

By the 35 over mark, Brian Lara had used seven different bowlers -- for the meager returns of 1 wicket, in exchange for 190 runs.

With every bowler who came and went without being able to break the partnership, the conundrum confronting Lara was further emphasized: He had a power play to take; he could either wait for a wicket to fall, or he could take a risk and go for it anyway, despite the presence at the crease of two batsmen nearing their centuries and striking at in excess of 85 per cent.

The start of the 36th over pushed the problem over the brink -- even if it was taken in the very next over, it would still mean that over number 41, inside the death, would see the West Indies struggling with field restrictions.

Chris Gayle, brought back on in the 36th after his first two overs had gone for 17 runs, solved part of the problem when, with his second delivery, he defeated an attempt by Kallis to back away from his stumps and cut, by bowling very full and straight to hit middle stump (80/83; 192/2).

It was a big enough wicket, ending the partnership of 171 runs at 6.03 per over, that put the West Indies entirely on the back foot. Surprise, surprise, over number 37 came and went, and there was still no sign of the power play -- either Lara had forgotten there was one due, or he was about to take the unprecedented step of going into the slog phase with restrictions on where he could place his fielders.

Either way, it was scarcely credible captaincy.

De Villiers, who seemed increasingly hampered by a hamstring problem, got to his first ever ODI century in the 38th over (114 deliveries) and promptly collapsed; he needed the attention of the physio, and the assistance of a runner, to continue. With him was Gibbs -- another player with a dodgy leg and hampered mobility.

De Villiers seemed in pain; he seemed, too, hell bent on transferring that pain to the opposition.

The first ball of the 40th over, from Gayle, was slog swept over the midwicket boundary for six; the last ball of the same over saw a quick shimmy and a clean strike, that deposited the ball well behind the long on boundary. The second ball of the 41st over, by Sarwan, was again slog swept, all muscle and intent, over midwicket; the third ball saw the same strike produce the same result; the last ball saw him go down on one knee to get low to an attempted yorker, and crack it past point for four.

It just kept getting better from there -- or worse, if you were a West Indian, as de Villiers gritted his teeth, flexed his muscles, and smashed everything within range. Gibbs decided to enjoy the show, and kept taking singles to transfer the strike back to his limping partner.

In an array of amazing shots, none perhaps was more astonishing than the one he played off the last ball of the 42nd over, to Bravo. The bowler sent down a 'slower ball' -- a half volley well outside off. De Villiers didn't have the mobility to move into the ball, so he dropped down on one knee, lunged a long way forward, and brutalized the ball to extra cover. The batsman was stretched flat on the ground when he completed that shot. He had, at this point, moved from 99 to 144 in the space of just 14 deliveries.

Finally, in the 44th over, de Villiers -- by then seemingly propped up by will power alone -- fell. To a ball on off and middle, de Villiers walked across his stumps, out on the off, and tried to chip over short fine leg, but only managed to pick out the fielder, in a very tame end to an innings of coruscating brilliance (145/128; 261/3; partnership 70 runs at 7.5)

In the 45th over, Lara incredibly took the power play -- surely a world record of sorts, and this from a team notoriously bad at bowling at the end.

The first ball of the power play saw Gibbs come dancing down, to deposit Bradshaw back over his head, one bounce to the sightscreen. To the next ball, the batsman went down on one knee and slog-swept a six over wide midwicket; he did it again to the last ball of the over� it was, briefly put, an invitation to a massacre, one the batsmen accepted with glee.

Having gone for 18 runs, Bradshaw went and stood at short third man, Gibbs hit Colleymore up in the air, mishooking, and Bradshaw ran around, got both hands to it, and let it go; the cameras panned to his captain, whose expression was not suitable for family viewing.

Bradshaw then took the ball, ran in, bowled a full toss, and was hit back over his head by Boucher for six. Second ball, full toss, creamed through long off. Down the leg side, flick, four.

Bravo, who had gone for 50 off five earlier, did incredibly well under the circumstances to give just one six, and a total of nine runs, in the 48th over. But Powell, taking the 49th, made up for his colleague's parsimony: Boucher smacked the first ball over midwicket for six; the second went in the same direction; Gibbs lined up the fourth ball and eased it over the straight field for an almighty six that broke the hell out of a window; and Boucher then came back to the plate to round it off with yet another mow, for six, over wide midwicket. 26 runs came in the over, and the West Indies increasingly looked like they wanted to break down and cry, en masse.

That over ended the power plays -- and South Africa plundered 77 runs off Lara's colossal miscalculation.

Bravo forced a miscue from Boucher in the final over and accepted the return catch (52/23 balls, two fours, five sixes, partnership of 86 runs at 13.95, and Boucher's strike rate an incredible 226.08).

South Africa ended with 356/4, Bravo producing a great final over that produced just 10. South Africa made a mammoth 134 runs off the final ten overs, to rub in Lara's miscalculation � more accurately, the first of many -- when he asked the Proteas to have first strike.

The best thing you could say for the West Indies is to reprise an old Malayalam saying that, loosely translated, means he who is fully submerged doesn't feel the cold any more. The West Indies are drowning under this deluge of runs; they have nothing to lose now, and so can come out and go blazing, fearlessly, from ball one. If it works, you pull off a sensational win; if it doesn't, well, how is the Windies any worse off?

Progression: Overs 26-50

30 overs: 159/1 @ 5.30 (de Villiers 73/88; Kallis 71/71)

35 overs: 190/1 @ 5.42 (de Villiers 94/104; Kallis 81/85)

40 overs: 222/2 @ 5.55 (de Villiers 114/118; Gibbs 12/15)

45 overs: 287/3 @ 6.37 (Gibbs 38/30; Boucher 7/5)

50 overs: 356/4 @ 7.12 (Gibbs 61/41; Pollock 0/0)

West Indies innings

The West Indies chase unfolded on lines that paralleled the start of the Proteas innings.

Graeme Smith went back early for the Proteas; Shivnaraine Chanderpaul walked back before the spectators had properly settled: Shaun Pollock bowled a fullish length outside off, Chanderpaul had a hit, managed only to get the toe of the bat on ball, and clipped it straight to Smith at mid off (4/7; 5/1).

Then followed a period of consolidation, powered by Devon Smith at number three. He was, for this phase of the innings, the motor force Jacques Kallis had been for the Proteas, hitting shots of pure class, keeping the board ticking at a decent clip, and giving Gayle Smith time and space to get his bearings without undue pressure.

De Villiers had begun the charge in the 10th over of the South African innings; here, it was again the 10th over, and it was Chris Gayle who broke free, clubbing Ntini through midwicket and crashing him again through point, before Smith rounded off the over with a fierce pull through midwicket.

There, the similarities ended. Between the 11th and 15th overs, the West Indies had two clear chances to get de Villiers run out and one at Kallis; each time the batsman would have been out by yards and each time, the fielders missed.

The South Africans differed, in that their fielders did what the bowling could not. In the 11th over, Smith backed away, made room, and cracked Andre Nel towards point. De Villiers, who needed drips to combat dehydration during the short break between innings, ran in, dived, and held an excellent low catch (33/27; 65/2).

In the very next over, Gayle pushed Andrew Hall out on the leg side, called for a single, hesitated, then took off. That's all it took � Ashwell Prince ran in from a shortish midwicket, fielded, spun around and, with one stump in sight, hit (32/35; 69/3).

Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan found themselves at the crease together without a run to their names; they had no time to worry about the rush of wickets, though � and a look at the rate of progression tells you why: for all the brief spurt of big hitting, during which Gayle and Smith brought up their 50 partnership off only 44 balls, the asking rate remained more or less stuck above the 7.5 rpo rate.

Sarwan played some glorious shots, through the covers and through square leg; Lara, a touch more subdued, looked to work the ball around more, and both batsmen seemed to be warming to the job when Jacques Kallis came on in the 20th over.

The first ball was a superb slower ball that almost foxed Lara into putting up a return catch. Three balls later, Kallis tried the change down in pace again � this was wide of off, a gimme if ever there was one. Lara could have smacked it through point from where he stood, but he opted to come charging down, flayed at the ball, and managed only a thin under edge onto his stumps (21/26; 119/4). Ironically, when Lara left, the run rate had actually climbed by a fraction.

Sarwan continued to play with purpose, and considerable flair � but with the power plays done with (Smith was in no danger of doing a Lara and leaving it to the slog), the Proteas spread out a bit, and made run scoring increasingly difficult.

Shaun Pollock came back in the 25th over � and again, superior fielding skills made the difference. Dwayne Bravo had a hit at the first ball from Pollock, looking to take a short ball and drive it on the rise over midwicket. Gibbs � another player nursing injury and seemingly with hampered mobility � did an 'Air' Jordan, timing his jump to a nicety, seemingly 'hanging' in the air for that extra split second, and reaching high above his head to pluck the ball one-handed � and he made it look pretty commonplace, too (6/11; 142/5).

At the halfway mark, the chase is effectively over; the run rate has fallen and the asking rate climbed above 8.5. The only points of interest that remain are what prodigies Sarwan will manage to perform, and just how large a margin will separate the two teams when it is all done and dusted.

Progression: Overs 1-25

5 overs: 20/1 @ 4.00 (Chris Gayle 5/12; Devon Smith 11/11); Required rate 7.48

10 overs: 61/1 @ 6.10 (Gayle 27/30; Smith 30/23); Required rate 7.40

15 overs: 87/3 @ 5.80 (Lara 10/12; Sarwan 8/9); Required rate 7.71

20 overs: 120/4 @ 6.00 (Sarwan 29/23; Dwayne Bravo 1/2); Required rate 7.90

25 overs: 144./5 @ 5.76 (Sarwan 47/43; Pollard 1/1); Required rate 8.52

Overs 26 - 50For Kieron Pollard, all of 19 years, the occasion of his ODI debut proved a bit overwhelming. He comes in with serious pedigree, having cracked 126 on debut at the first class level for Trinidad and Tobago off 71 balls.

A World Cup is a step or three up, though -- and out there, he must have looked up at the scoreboard, after watching Sarwan take 10 off Pollock in the 29th over (a pull over long on, four leg byes when Sarwan's walkabout antics confused the bowler into drifting down leg side) and noticed that the run rate had actually climbed above the 9 an over mark.

He had a swish at a slower ball, first up in Kallis's over, the 30th, and was lucky to survive. Three balls later, he came charging at an absolutely straight ball, got too close to the ball, and missed with his wild heave -- ironically, he managed to york himself with a ball that would have been short of length if he had stayed where he was supposed to (10/17; 169/6).

By way of relief from the monotonous diet of pace, Graeme Smith brought himself on in the 32nd, and was promptly lofted, with effortless ease, for a straight six by Sarwan, who seemed to be batting on a track, and against bowling, that was far easier than what confronted his mates.

No matter -- two deliveries later, Smith tossed one up, Ramdhin waved at it vaguely and Peterson, substituting at short midwicket, dived forward to hold an inch above the ground (4/9; 181/7).

Sarwan seemed to decide that if the Windies had to go down, it sure as hell wouldn't be to Smith's apologetic spin. In the 34th over, he first cracked Smith high, hard and straight, only to see Ntini go up off the ground, as if he were climbing a staircase, get a palm to the ball and push it back inside the rope. That effort got Sarwan just two; he then smashed the next ball through the covers, forcing a misfield from Prince that got him four; the next ball was smashed through point; a ball later, Sarwan went through extra cover again and that was pretty much that for Smith, whose two overs at that point had gone for 26 runs.

Ramnaresh Sarwan's brilliant solo was drowned out by the surrounding chaos -- yet it was an outstanding innings for all that it finally proved futile. From the moment he came in, neither pitch, nor bowlers, gave him the least trouble; his shots were crisp and effortless, his selection of balls to hit impeccable, and during his stay he gave the impression that if one or two of his mates had hung around, he could still have made something of this.

His effort, though, finally came to an end when an attempt to hit Ntini over the bowler's head was mistimed, and picked out Pollock at mid off (92/75; 213/8).

Powell decided to give the fans something to toot their conch shells about, and cracked a flat batted six over long on off Ntini, following up with a one-legged hook through midwicket for four. Having got the bit between his teeth, Powell decided to treat himself to some fun. He watched Smith tempt Bradshaw into a slog sweep that ended up in the hands of Andrew Hall at deep square leg, but an over later, launched into the Proteas skipper, with successive sixes over midwicket and long on.

And just to give the crowds something to roar about, Colleymore cracked a six -- for the second time in this tournament � off the last ball of the innings. But in the final analysis, it was all futile -- the top order had yet again collapsed, and the game was over by the halfway mark.

South Africa sealed the win by 78 runs -- which is a good enough margin, but SA will have some cause for concern that after getting the Windies 5/142, the bowlers weren't able to seal the deal against the bottom half of the batting -- a problem that could make all the difference when up against the better sides.

Progression: Overs 26-50

30 overs: 169/6 @ 5.63 (Sarwan 59/56; Ramdhin 0/1); Required rate 9.40

35 overs: 204/7 @ 5.82 (Sarwan 86/69; Bradshaw 4/9); Required rate 10.20

40 overs: 219/8 @ 5.47 (Powell 5/6; Bradshaw 8/27); Required rate 13.80

45 overs: 253/8 @ 5.62 (Powell 26/19; Bradshaw 20/44); required rate 20.80

50 overs: 279/9 @ 5.69 (Powell 46/32; Colleymore 6/10).

The Cup: The Complete Coverage

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