In 2006, the South African ODI squad in their pink uniform chased down what was the highest ODI total (between two test playing nations) at the time. Australia went in to bat first and led by Ricky Ponting who scored 164, racked up a grand total of 434 runs. A formidable 1st innings test total let alone ODI total, something teams would be delighted with for a full and a half worth of play. To go at a run rate of 8.68 for 50 overs is more than incredible, something no one expected South Africa to chase down. Led by Herschelle Gibbs who scored 175, South Africa did exactly that and chased down Australia’s mighty total.
On Sunday in Johannesburg, South Africa smashed through their own record against the West Indies to set up a first innings total of 439 runs, only losing two wickets with their top three batsmen all scoring centuries. Hashim Amla scored a career best 153 not out and along with Rilee Rossouw who scored his maiden century they put on a 247-run partnership. Amla and Rossouw’s partnership lasted until the 39th over, they had set a strong base and within the next 10 overs even if South Africa had added another 100 runs they would have been happy with that score.
AB de Villiers however, had other ideas. When given any freedom he is at his most dangerous and this was the perfect opportunity for him to free up and hit. The South African ODI captain faced only 44 balls (roughly seven overs) and ended his innings with a score of 149, four less than Hashim Amla who stayed at the crease for the entire 50 overs. de Villiers beat Sanath Jayasuriya’s record of the fastest ODI fifty and smashed Corey Anderson’s record of scoring a century in 36 balls. de Villiers racked up his century in a mere 31 balls. Of his 44 balls he belted 16 sixes to equal Rohit Sharma’s record number and played out only three dot balls.
There was no stopping de Villiers, no matter what the West Indies put forward, the bad balls were put away but so were the good ones. Jason Holder had no answers, never before had a West Indian bowler gone for 90+ runs in an ODI innings and here de Villiers had forced two above 90. The second wicket partnership lasted 67 balls with the run rate reaching an incredible 17.12 and de Villiers’ strike rate reaching 339, the first time a batsman has made a 100+ score at a 300+ strike rate.
The innings finally came to an end and West Indies were relieved from their beating. It wasn’t over though, West Indies still had to climb mount Everest and they did not have the batting experience or the depth that South Africa did. They were severely missing the experience and explosiveness of Dwayne Bravo and Keiron Pollard who were left out of the series and the World Cup. With a fairly new side, most of the weight was resting on the shoulders of one man, Chris Gayle. If Gayle had gotten going, he could have scored a massive total and kept the run rate within reach for the rest of the team and give them a chance. However he was dismissed very early on and West Indies’ hope of reaching the total diminished drastically. They went on to reach 291 runs and on any other day it would have been a decent total, one that most teams would accept at the start of an innings, but against the pink uniform, they fell 148 runs short.