Mohali: Contrasting centuries from Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers guided South Africa to a comprehensive 231-run victory over the Netherlands in their Group B match here on Thursday.
Put into bat by the Netherlands captain Peter Borren, South Africa overcame an extremely lethargic start before Amla (113, 130 balls, 8X4) and De Villiers (134, 98 balls, 13x4, 4X6) put on 221-run stand for the third-wicket, which paved the way for a facile win.
Incidentally, their partnership was the highest for third wicket for South Africa.
Thereafter, a nice cameo by Jean-Paul Duminy made matters worse for ‘Oranje Brigade’ as his 15-ball 40 helped the Proteas pile up a massive 351 for five in their 50 overs.
The Netherlands batsmen never looked like making a match of it. They kept losing wickets at regular intervals to eventually get bundled out for 120 in 34.5 overs.
Imran Tahir finished with three for 22 from five overs, while Jacques Kallis (2/19) and Robin Peterson (2/22) chipped in with crucial wickets.
Having struggled to find his rhythm earlier, Amla survived a few scares before settling down to bring up his eighth century in ODIs, while De Villiers looked in great form since the time he took the crease as he completed his quickfire hundred to put South Africa in box seat at the PCA Stadium here on Thursday.
At his devastating best, De Villiers entertained the handful of spectators as he hit four huge sixes out of which three came off consecutive deliveries of Bernard Loots.
Duminy also joined the party as he smashed 20 runs of the final over of the innings bowled by Ryan ten Doeschate, including two huge straight sixes.
Earlier, Dutch captain Peter Borren invited the Proteas to bat to make use of the wicket under overcast conditions, following a light drizzle yesterday evening.
The Dutch bowlers justified their skipper’s decision as they kept things tight by bowling fuller and also generated a bit of seam movement.
Holland’s new ball bowlers Berend Westdijk and Mudassar Bukhari stuck to a disciplined line and offered very few loose deliveries, as South African captain Graeme Smith and Amla found it difficult to play their free-flowing natural game.
Apart from the two short balls in the opening overs, which were immediately punished by Amla for boundaries, Bukhari and Westdijk didn’t err in length.
Initially, Westdijk and Bukhari were ably complemented by Ten Doeschate and Loots as South Africa reached 50 in 12.1 overs.
Smith, who was also looking completely out of sorts on Thursday, finally fell after making a slow 20 off 32 balls when he played across the line to a delivery that was angled into him and was bowled in the process.
Ten Doeschate then saw off veteran Jacques Kallis (2), who needlessly edged a delivery that was going way down the leg-side to wicketkeeper Wesley Barresi.
South Africa were left struggling at 58 for two with first two Powerplays already being taken.
It was time to consolidate the innings and in his desperate bid to accelerate the scoring, Amla survived a couple of scares before he became more cautious in his approach.
Though not in his usual devastating self, he still managed to bring up his half-century. He then found an able partner in De Villiers, who got into the act hitting three boundaries of the first eight deliveries that he faced.
Also with the strip easing out, the South African batsmen came out all guns blazing. Amla completed his ton off 121 balls, studded with the help of six boundaries.
South Africa were 218 for two after 41 overs when they decided to take a batting Powerplay. It turned out to be a good move as the Powerplay overs yielded 69 runs.
It was De Villiers who first chanced his arms hitting a six and a four of left-arm spinner Pieter Seelaar’s over. Amla also got into the act stealing another boundary to help South Africa take 16 runs as they were successful in breaking the shackles.
De Villiers, also brought up his 11th ODI century in 88 balls, studded with 10 boundaries and a six. Thereafter, without wasting any time, he straight away hit three sixes off the first three balls of Loots’ over, while Amla chipped in with a four to help Proteas notch up 25 runs in that over.
Although both Amla and De Villiers perished in successive overs, Duminy continued the mayhem to take his team to a commanding total.
For the Netherlands, Ten Doeschate chipped in with three wickets but was blasted for 72 runs in the process.
Facing an uphill task, the Dutch could not get off to a good start as Kallis made up for his no-show with the bat by dismissing Alexei Kervezee (10) with his very first delivery.
Kervezee, who was attempting a straight one ended up giving a return catch to Kallis.
He could have added another quick one to his kitty, had Morne Morkel not played too casual with Barresi’s catch in the 10th over. The wicketkeeper-batsman then went on to hit 44 (66 balls, 5X4) before South African ‘keeper Morne van Wyk effected a smart stumping as the batsman failed to get his foot back in the crease.
Kallis, then send back Tim Cooper (9) when his mistimed pull was gobbled up by Dale Steyn stationed at fine leg.
The Netherlands’ best batsman Ten Doeschate could not live up to the expectations and got trapped leg before off Steyn, scoring just 11 off 21 balls.
Robin Peterson, meanwhile, accounted for the wickets of Bas Zuiderent (15) and Peter Borren (3) to end any hope of the Dutch even coming close to the target.
In the end, leg-spinner Imran Tahir quickly polished off the tail accounting for Bukhari, Loots and Westdijk to put an end to another one-sided contest.