AB de Villiers scored his 42nd ODI fifty. He  missed out on a deserving ton as he was dismissed for 91 © Getty Images
AB de Villiers scored his 42nd ODI fifty. He missed out on a deserving ton as he was dismissed for 91 © Getty Images

By Abhijit Banare

Nov 21, 2014

AB de Villiers’ 91 and his 122-run fourth wicket stand with David Miller (45) helped South Africa post a total of 267 for eight against Australia in the fourth one-Day International (ODI) at Melbourne on Friday.

After struggling in all three run-chases in this series, it was expected that the Proteas would look to bat and they managed so having won the toss. Both teams had made a few changes. The big surprise of them was South Africa’s decision to rest Morne Morkel. This is one venue where the visitors enjoy a good record winning all six of the previous encounters.

South Africans squandered an opportunity to put up a solid start by gifting their wickets away. Hashim Amla pulled Nathan Coulter-Nile straight to short mid-wicket to bring a pre-mature end to his fluent innings. Australia suffered a blow soon as the pacer walked back with a hamstring injury which later turned out to be serious and he was ruled out of the ongoing match.

Glenn Maxwell was brought in early to fill in the overs and he stood upto the task restricting the flow of runs. The Proteas added more pressure on themselves with Quinton de Kock playing a silly shot to give simple caught-behind. Faf departed after a solid 28. De Villiers and David Miller were left to do the rebuilding job.

The middle overs in the innings which is usually considered to be a building phase was filled with intense moments. Skipper George Bailey pressed hard with unorthodox off-side field placements for de Villiers and his Proteas counterpart was upto the challenge shuffling his stance furthermore. Starc continued to push the deliveries wide away from De Villiers and at one point the batsman had moved himself to the sixth stump outside off to play a flick.

For the first half of the innings, South Africa hardly looked in control of the proceedings. Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Maxwell displayed good skills with their bowling.

Stat: Today was only the third instance in his 175 ODI innings that AB de Villiers has been dismissed in the 90s

The partnership proved to be the most fascinating part of the innings. De Villiers displayed an uncharacteristic batting scoring just two boundaries on his way to 42nd ODI fifty yet reaching there in 46 balls. There were no risks taken and yet his strike rate remained as impressive as it often does.  From 77 for three, the pair had recovered lost ground to put on unbeaten 108 before the start of the batting powerplay in the 35th over. Singles, twos, threes and they even ran four, such was the array of strokes played by this pair to all parts of the ground.

The batting powerplay started off well with a 11-run over. But the partnership finally came to an end with Miller miscuing a big shot on the off-side and departed for 45. the duo added 122-run stand came in 121 balls.

Meanwhile, de Villiers looked set for his 19th ODI ton but a pull shot off a deliberate slower ball from Cummins saw him caught at deep midwicket. His 91 from 88 balls involving six boundaries. Once De Villiers departed it was business as usual, the lower-order struggled to keep the runs coming.

When the acceleration was needed in the last five, the Proteas lost wickets regularly. Barring De Villiers and Miller, there was hardly any innings which could propel South Africa to a 300+ score.

Brief scores:

South Africa 267 for 8 in 50 overs (AB de Villiers 91, David Miller 45; Mitchell Starc 1 for 40, Pat Cummins 2 for 61) vs Australia.

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(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on @AbhijitVirgo)