By Suneer Chowdhary
Delhi: Feb 24, 2011
When asked before the start of the game whether he would love making it count on his home ground in IPL, AB de Villier reminded the interviewer that it was his former ground. And then, almost on cue, he decided to treat the Delhi fans to an innings of utmost delight and chutzpah.
Unbothered by the situation at which he came to bat, de Villiers bulldozed three boundaries off the first six balls that he faced – all off West Indies’ best bowler, Kemar Roach. It did not stop at that. The boundaries were picked off at an alarming rate and whether the ball came off a quick bowler or a spinner, it had no effect on de Villiers.
His half-century came off 54 deliveries, getting there with a six. Then, as if the removal of the fielding restrictions had hardly had an effect on him, his second 50 that got him to his century took another 43 balls only. Considering that the knock came after a relatively listless last four games against India, it made it look even more special. There were eight boundaries and a couple of sixes and he ended unbeaten on 107 (105 balls).
At the other end, Graeme Smith had looked harried against pace and spin alike, but to his credit, the loss of two early wickets meant that his dismissal would have stirred the pot no ends. He stuck it in the middle, and only after battling through the best part of 13 overs, Smith was finally dismissed for 45. By then, he had done enough to chuck out any choke-thoughts from the naysayers’ minds. And if there still were doubts, JP Duminy’s unbeaten 42 sealed the West Indian fate.
Earlier, West Indies had begun their defence of the paltry 222 in fine style. Hashim Amla was sent back off an in-cutting delivery from Roach while Jacques Kallis’ comeback from injury lasted only seven deliveries before he edged Sulieman Benn to the slips. With Dwayne Bravo limping off after sending down only 13 balls and the side having gone in with a defensive strategy of playing eight batsmen meant that West Indies were left with only straws to clutch at.
After a brief interruption due to rain, the target was reached in the 43rd over.
West Indies should have got to a lot more than they eventually did. There were no horrors in the track, none when compared with the one that saw Sri Lanka walk off 14 months ago in an ODI against India. After Chris Gayle’s early dismissal to the off-spin of Johan Botha, Darren Bravo gave his fans a glimpse of what the future could have in store for them with classic knock 73.
His brother Dwayne made 40 but debutant Imran Tahir pricked the West Indian bubble with a four-wicket haul, revealing deficiencies against spin in the their ranks. There were two collapses, one after each of the Bravo brothers were dismissed and it looked like the side had fallen at least 40 runs short of a decent total.
The manner in which de Villiers batted though, even that would have fallen short of the par score for the night.
Brief Scores: West Indies 222 all out in 47.3 overs (Darren Bravo 73, Dwayne Bravo 40, Devon Smith 36; Imran Tahir 4 for 41, Dale Steyn 3 for 24) lost to South Africa 223 for 3 in 42.5 overs (AB de Villiers 107*, Graeme Smith 45; Kieron Pollard 1for 37, Kemar Roach 1 for 42) by 7 wickets.
(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at email@example.com and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)
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