13 March 2015
The Castle Lager Proteas are building good momentum as they head to the quarter- finals of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.
The South Africans finished the group stages with a 146-run win over the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday.
The Proteas are virtually guaranteed second place in Pool B. Either Pakistan or Ireland could finish level with the South Africans on 8 points, but they have virtually no chance of overturning the vast difference in net run rate.
The Proteas’ likely quarter-final opponents are Sri Lanka, who are currently second in Pool A, but there is an outside possibility that they could play Australia or Bangladesh. For that to happen, there would have to be at least one major upset with Bangladesh playing New Zealand in their last pool match and Australia taking on Scotland.
Man-of-the-match AB de Villiers once again proved his versatility when he first laid the platform for the Proteas total after they had been sent into bat – and then he led the acceleration into the final 15 overs.
He made top score of 99 (82 balls, 6 fours and 4 sixes) and in the process set a World Cup record for the most sixes at a tournament. He has now hit 20 sixes to go past the 18 sixes that Matthew Hayden hit at the 2007 edition.
The South African captain is the second player after Kumar Sangakkara to achieve an aggregate of 400 runs for the competition.
For good measure, De Villiers also returned career best bowling figures of 2/15 and is, statistically speaking, the leading all-rounder in the side.
Morne Morkel (2/23) was the pick of the South African attack. He is now the joint second leading wicket-taker at the tournament (13).
De Villiers said afterwards that the game was a good all-round exercise for his squad. Most of the batsmen spent some valuable time out in the middle, along with the part- time bowlers, who went for 3 for 38 runs in 10 overs.
“It was a good performance, these are always tricky games,” De Villiers said after the match. “I thought they [UAE] bowled pretty well up front and made it difficult for us. It was one of my harder knocks out there today, it was really hard work.
“We got a nice foundation again, which I’m very happy about, so we could free up nicely towards the end. I’m also happy about the fact that Quinny [De Kock] and Farhaan [Behardien] scored some runs. Some of the lower-order also got an opportunity to hit a couple of balls, even Vernon [Philander] got in. Those kind of things will definitely help us going into the knock-out round.”
De Villiers says it was a difficult decision not to give some of the fringe players a go, especially Aaron Phangiso, who is yet to play a game. But he said he could trust the left- arm spinner to perform if he was needed.
“It was a tough decision for us,” De Villiers said. “We were very tempted to play Phangiso in the team. It’s been a long tour for him, but his attitude has been superb, and I’ve got to compliment him on that. He works really hard in the nets. I know what he’s capable of, so I won’t be worried if something were to happen to Imran Tahir and we’ll have to play him in one of the knock-out games.
Phangiso’s a “big-match player, he always has been”, he said. “I bowled him in those final overs in PE for a reason – because he’s always that kind of guy that wins you a match when it matters most. If his opportunity comes, I know he’ll grab it with both hands.”
The Proteas travel to Sydney on Saturday where they will await confirmation of their quarter-final opponents.
WORLD CUP MATCHES
- 15 February, 3am: South Africa beat Zimbabwe.
- 22 February, 5.30am: India beat South Africa.
- 27 February, 5.30am: South beat West Indies.
- 3 March, 5.30am: South Africa beat Ireland.
- 7 March, 3am: Pakistan beat South Africa.
- 12 March, 3am: South Africa beat United Arab Emirates.
- 18 March, 5.30am: Sydney Cricket Ground
- 19 March, 5.30am: Melbourne Cricket Ground
- 20 March, 5.30am: Adelaide Oval
- 21 March, 3am: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
- 24 March, 3am: Eden Park, Auckland
- 26 March, 5.30am: Sydney Cricket Ground
- 29 March, 5.30am: Melbourne Cricket Ground