AB de Villiers hit 107 off 105 balls to propel South Africa to a seven-wicket victory over West Indies in the teams’ opening game at the Cricket World Cup.
West Indies made 222 all out in 47.3 overs after being sent in to bat yesterday as leg-spinner Imran Tahir took four wickets on his one-day international debut. South Africa finished on 223-3 in 42.5 overs in the Group B match in New Delhi.
“I’m very, very happy with my innings,” De Villiers said at the post-match presentation ceremony. “I wasn’t timing it in the nets the last week but luckily it came together.”
West Indies, which won the first two editions of cricket’s four-yearly championship in 1975 and 1979, suffered an early setback when Chris Gayle was caught by Jacques Kallis off Johan Botha on the third ball of the match.
Devon Smith and Darren Bravo took the score to 113 when Bravo, on 73, was trapped leg-before-wicket by Botha. Tahir then struck twice to dismiss Smith, on 36, and Ramnaresh Sarwan (2) to reduce West Indies to 120-4.
Dwayne Bravo hit 40 in 37 balls before he was run out with the score at 178-5. Shivnarine Chanderpaul made 31 and the last four wickets fell for 9 runs. Tahir claimed 4-41 and fast bowler Dale Steyn 3-24.
South Africa lost Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis within five overs to fall to 20-2 in its run chase. Captain Graeme Smith and De Villiers then shared 119 for the third wicket before Smith was bowled by Kieron Pollard. De Villiers and JP Duminy, who hit an unbeaten 42, guided the Proteas to the victory target after a brief interruption for rain.
“We haven’t played in like 19 days, so today was good for us,” Smith said. “AB hit the ball incredibly sweetly, he controlled the game incredibly well for us.”
Fourth-ranked South Africa, which has never won the competition, next plays the Netherlands in Mohali on March 3. West Indies, ranked eighth, also meets the Dutch next, in New Delhi on Feb. 28.
“We’ll go back, look at the drawing board and come back against the Netherlands,” West Indies captain Darren Sammy said. “Any time we seemed like we were getting on top we lost wickets in clusters. We have to correct that.”
The top four teams from each of the two seven-team groups advance to the quarterfinals after a round-robin competition. The tournament, co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, ends April 2.
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