In their opening World Cup match against Zimbabwe, the Proteas’ David Miller and JP Duminy made a couple of records in what Britain’s Ebony Rainford-Brent called “some of the best hitting I’ve ever seen”. It was an unbeaten partnership that rescued South Africa and will not be soon forgotten.
JP Duminy takes a swing at Zimbabwean bowling on the way to his unbeaten 115. (Image: Cricket SA)
Imran Tahir had career best figures of three wickets for 36 runs in the Proteas’ victory over Zimbabwe; but his success was overshadowed by the Duminy and Miller show. David Miller and JP Duminy shared a world record unbroken fifth wicket partnership of 256 to help the Proteas defeat the dangerous minnows by 62 runs.
In the end it looked like a convincing victory but in reality it was only in the 47th over that South Africa stood above the Zimbabweans in the over by over run comparison. It was the 30-run 48th over that helped push the partnership into record territory.
South Africa is ranked third in the Reliance International Cricket Council One Day International (ICC ODI), Zimbabwe 10th. But games between the neighbours are derbies, and anything can happen in a derby. Form and history do not matter because both teams are doubly motivated. Away from the World Cup, South Africa has won 34 of 37 matches. At the World Cup the teams have faced each other twice, with a victory each.
Miller (138 not out) and Duminy (115 not out) rescued a South African innings floundering at 83 for four when Duminy joined at the crease. “The team was in a little bit of trouble, and I thought to myself, you know, just try and build a long partnership here with JP,” Miller told the BBC in his low key way. “I just needed to construct a partnership with someone, and JP was the man today. It was tough up front and a bit slow initially, but it definitely eased up towards the end.”
Youthful Miller and Duminy started slowly, showing deference to a bowling attack that had worked through South Africa’s world-class top order. Once they both reached 50, the attack on the Zimbabwean bowling intensified. The blitz in the last 10 overs was so brutally aggressive the pair scored 146 runs, with 96 coming in just the last five overs.
By the 40th over the pair had been together for almost 20 overs when the onslaught began. Miller went from 40 to 100 in 28 balls. When it was over his unbeaten 138 came off 92 balls and included nine sixes (one of which was smacked out the grounds), another World Cup record.
As Miller explained in the post-match press conference, the innings was “very fun. I’d worked really hard for the last 25 overs, and we still had wickets in hand, just to try and express myself toward the end.”
In setting the new mark, the pair won praise from English women’s star Ebony Rainford-Brent, who told the BBC the partnership would not be soon forgotten, and not just because it was a record. “I was really impressed with the way South Africa applied themselves as they had to stick in and build a strong partnership. Their running between the wickets was excellent, and then it was some of the best hitting I’ve ever seen.”
The Proteas win was a team effort, Miller and Duminy with the bat and Imran Tahir who had his best ODI game. (Image: Cricket SA)
Miller and Duminy demolished the previous record set up Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara, scored by the English pair against Ireland. The previous best for a South African fifth wicket pair was the 183 scored by Jacques Kallis and Jonty Rhodes against Pakistan in 1983.