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ICC World Cup
Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi
AB de Villiers cracked his 10th one-day century as South Africa opened their World Cup account with an impressive seven-wicket victory over West Indies.
The elegant right-hander followed up a fine bowling performance from debutant Imran Tahir (4-41) to ensure the Proteas cantered past the 223 victory target with 7.1 overs to spare.
De Villiers (107 not out) batted with great poise throughout his unbeaten 105-ball stay, finding the rope on eight occasions and clearing it twice to record the fastest ever World Cup century by a South African.
West Indies were earlier restricted to just 222 all out as canny leg-spinner Tahir and pace bowler Dale Steyn (3-24) ran amok.
There were some plus points for Darren Sammy's men, though, not least an attractive innings of 73 from promising left-hand batsman Darren Bravo earlier in the piece.
However, Bravo's efforts never looked enough after West Indies' big guns Chris Gayle (2) and Kieron Pollard (golden duck) failed to make an impression on the big stage.
Imposing left-hander Gayle fell in the very first over of the match, caught sharply at slip by Jacques Kallis off the unorthodox off-spin of Johan Botha (2-48).
South Africa's celebration showed just how big a strike that was, however fellow opener Devon Smith and Darren Bravo eased the pain with a counter-attacking century stand for the second wicket.
Bravo brought up his half-century at near run-a-ball pace and swiftly followed up the milestone with a towering six off Tahir.
But the leg-spinner was to have a massive say in proceedings moments later, snaring Smith (32) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (2) in quick succession after Botha had returned to trap Bravo plumb in front.
West Indies found themselves on 120-4 at this point and some lusty hitting from Dwayne Bravo (40 off 37 balls) had South Africa on the back foot.
However, as is so often the case with the Windies, they were to become the architects of their own downfall in the 38th over when Bravo was on the receiving end of a poor call from partner Shivnarine Chanderpaul and was comfortably run out.
Chanderpaul (31) did his best to make amends but Tahir made him his third victim when he holed out to Robin Petersen on the long-off boundary.
That brought Pollard to the wicket but the high-profile all-rounder was promptly sent back to the pavilion when Steyn trapped him lbw first ball.
That all-but signalled the end for the Windies as Steyn ripped through the tail with only 13 runs added for the final five wickets.
South Africa then showed just how to bat on the surface, captain Graeme Smith leading the way with a gritty 45 at the top of the order.
The left-hander lost partner Hashim Amla early, though, with the in-form right-hander perhaps unfortunate to see his inside edge off Kemar Roach (1-42) spectacularly taken by Devon Thomas behind the wicket.
West Indies' spirits were raised again two overs later as Kallis (4) also failed to make double figures when he edged Sulieman Benn (1-51) to Sammy at slip.
But Smith and De Villiers steadied the ship masterfully with an untroubled 119-run partnership for the third wicket.
Smith fell five short of his half-century when Pollard (1-37) snuck one past his flaying bat and into the stumps, however there was to be no stopping De Villiers.
He scored freely both sides of the wicket and, in partnership with JP Duminy (42 no), ensured the three-time semi-finalists posted an early Group B victory.
"De Villiers destroys England" - Start typing that one too, don't say you were not warned. Great one Proteas!
Posted 06:11 25th February 2011
Excellent knock by AB.We are indebted to him as a nation.And Tahir did extremely well also.Great debut.So far so good boys.Bring it home.
Posted 19:50 24th February 2011
i have been a fan of ab for quite some time now, n he proves it again why people adore him so much.Its simply his presence on field and today one could tell he was in good nick after middling almost every ball.and a century was inevitable.I just hope he starts fielding back at point.insted of keeping.because his simply the best fielder in the squad.his good behind the stumps but his better at point.
Posted 18:49 24th February 2011