Amla sets up massive victory for Proteas

Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla during their 247 partnership against Ireland. *Photo: Cricket South Africa Facebook page.
Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla during their 247 partnership against Ireland. *Photo: Cricket South Africa Facebook page.

The Castle Lager Proteas produced the ideal performance both with bat and ball to beat Ireland by 201 runs in their ICC World Cup Pool B match at Canberra on Tuesday.

The Proteas set a record for posting 400 runs totals in back-to-back matches and have now drawn level with India with five totals in excess of this milestone. They are also the second team after Australia to post 200-run wins in successive World Cup matches.

The Proteas once again followed their blueprint of laying a solid foundation with Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis sharing a South African second-wicket record stand of 247, beating the previous mark of 207 set by Gary Kirsten and Neil McKenzie against Kenya in 2001.

Both scored centuries – Amla getting his 20th and finishing with a career best 159 off 128 balls, 16 fours and 4 sixes and Du Plessis his fourth (109 off 109 balls, 10 fours and a six).

As usual Amla reached the milestone of 20 centuries far quicker than anybody else in the history of the game.

Speaking at the post-match presentation Amla said, “Fortunately, we got off to a good start. Myself and Faf just got something going and then we started playing a few shots.

“We had wickets in hand, so we kind of had the luxury to do that. We just thought that let’s have a go and see what happens and thankfully it came off.”

By far the most important statistic, however, was the fact that the Proteas scored more than 200 runs (230) for the second match in a row in the final 20 overs. Everybody has been talking about getting 100 in the final 10 but the Proteas have now taken this to a new level with 100 runs in each of the last 10 overs.

Once again they constructed an excellent batting power play, following up their 72/0 against the West Indies between overs 36 and 40 with 69/1 against Ireland in the same grouping of overs.

Equally impressive was the fact that they reached 400 with a negligible contribution from AB de Villiers although he and Amla shared a stand of 40 in 2.3 overs.

Captain AB de Villiers said, “It was a good game today. I am very happy with the performance. The nice thing about the batting display today was especially the fact that we did it our way.

“We are not following anyone else’s strategy. We followed our game plans and guys played exceptionally well upfront. It set it up nicely for the rest in the middle-order.”

It was left to Rilee Rossouw and David Miller to finish the innings in style with an unbroken partnership of 110 in 8.3 overs. Rossouw contributed 61 (30 balls, 6 fours and 3 sixes) and Miller 46 off 23 (4 fours and 2 sixes).

The pace trio then virtually settled the game in the 10 overs statutory power play, taking 4 wickets between them, allowing De Villiers the luxury of experimenting with his part-time bowling options. He himself bowled two overs, Du Plessis 4 and Rossouw 2 and, together with Farhaan Behardien’s 2, this amounted to the fifth bowler taking 1/63 between them.

This was the only stage at which the Irish batsmen were able to get into the game with Andy Ballbirnie and Kevin O’Brien sharing a stand of 81 in 15.3 overs for the sixth wicket.

Kyle Abbott, like Rossouw, continues to present an impelling case for a starting berth in a full-strength XI while Dale Steyn celebrated his 100th ODI in emphatic style. The more he bowls the better he will get and he is honing in nicely for the knock-out stage of the competition.

The Proteas are in second place in Pool B behind India with a positive net run rate of almost 2.

They now return to New Zealand for their next match against Pakistan at Auckland on Saturday (03h00 CAT)

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