South Africa v England, 3rd ODI, Cape Town

Destructive de Villiers crushes England

The Report by Andrew McGlashan

November 27, 2009

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South Africa 354 for 6 (de Villiers 121, Amla 86, Smith 54, Petersen 51*, Broad 4-71) beat England 242 (Collingwood 86, Pietersen 45, Parnell 5-48) by 112 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details


AB de Villiers celebrates reaching his hundred from 75 balls, South Africa v England, 3rd ODI, Cape Town, November 27, 2009
AB de Villiers celebrates his breathtaking hundred which powered South Africa to 354 at Newlands © Getty Images
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Fortress Newlands brought the best out of South Africa again as they levelled the one-day series with a crushing 112-run victory on the back of a blistering 85-ball 121 by AB de Villiers. There had been some strong words in the home camp after the defeat at Centurion and a refocused group of players emerged to produce a powerful all-round display, capped off with the fit-again Wayne Parnell claiming a career-best 5 for 48.

It would be easy to look at Graeme Smith winning the toss and surmise that it made a huge difference given the ground's history. There is no doubt it helped - batting under pristine blue skies was a head start - but it would be a huge disservice to South Africa's top order, and especially de Villiers, to suggest it was the deciding factor. This wasn't one of those nights where the ball zipped around under the lights, instead England were beaten by sheer weight of runs from a batting display that wasn't far off the perfect gameplan.

England didn't roll over in a daunting run chase but after losing their top three for 58 and Kevin Pietersen at the half-way mark the task was always too much. Paul Collingwood continued his recent rich vein of form with a combative 86 including three sixes - taking his tally since the start of the Champions Trophy to 393 runs in six innings - but it was only an effort in narrowing the margin of defeat. South Africa's attack was far sharper with the return of Parnell and Morne Morkel who shared eight wickets in a throw-ahead of what the Test series could entail.

From early in the innings it appeared a given that South Africa would make hay, but not quite to the extent of 354 - comfortably a record score against England and equalling their best for this venue. Smith and Hashim Amla opened with a stand of 107 in 18 overs which paved the way for de Villiers to produce one of his finest one-day innings.

In a wonderful display of clean and controlled striking de Villiers went a long way towards correcting his poor one-day record against England which stood as an anomaly in his career where his previous best was 42. At no stage did de Villiers take his foot off the gas, but the innings really exploded into life when South Africa took their batting Powerplay in the 43rd over.

De Villiers greeted Stuart Broad with an audacious ramp-turned-scoop over the keeper's head then swept him fiercely through midwicket in an over that cost 15. His hundred - the fourth of his career - came in the next over off 75 balls with another boundary pummelled through midwicket. When he finally skied to cover, a number of England players acknowledged the innings as he left the field. Along the way de Villiers shared stands of 98 with Amla and 95 in 10 overs with Alviro Petersen, but on both occasions his partners became almost forgotten bystanders.

Amla and Smith were allowed to kick-start the innings against some wayward new-ball bowling. Smith went to a run-a-ball fifty then dragged Luke Wright into his stumps, but Amla settled into the anchor role. Amla wouldn't have been playing in this series if Jacques Kallis hadn't been ruled out with a fractured rib but, as he always does, he continued to make the most of his opportunity. De Villiers backed up the opening stand with a positive start as he took advantage of the delayed bowling Powerplay with a flick over midwicket and two rasping cut shots. The warning signs were flashing.

De Villiers rushed his fifty from 39 balls as he made good ground on catching his partner. Amla had a century for the taking when he bottom-edged a pull to Matt Prior and momentarily England held the run-rate in check as Wright had JP Duminy taken at deep square-leg. However, South Africa were just biding their time.

De Villiers and Petersen consolidated for a few overs until the mayhem started. The fourth-wicket stand was worth 95 with 57 of those coming from the batting Powerplay as de Villiers cut loose against Broad and Anderson. Mark Boucher ensured the innings ended with a flourish as the final 10 overs brought 109 runs. Extraordinarily, given the total, Boucher launched the first six of the innings in the 48th over with a straight drive off Wright. Petersen reached an almost-ignored fifty from 39 balls - matching de Villiers' rate - during the final over as South Africa moved past 350.

Faced with an asking rate of seven England shuffled their batting order and the promoted Wright chanced his arm for 24 off 19 balls before picking out deep square-leg. Andrew Strauss batted with intent and no little flourish, but not for nearly long enough when he edged a wide ball from Morkel. In the next over Jonathan Trott was brilliantly held at first slip by Smith who was having one of those days that captains savour.

Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen, the latter still searching for form, had to try and rebuild in the face of an ever-rising asking rate and just when a partnership was settling Pietersen failed to cover his leg stump when he swept at Duminy. Despite Collingwood's strong biffing, which included consecutive sixes off Ryan McLaren, sustaining the required rate was mission impossible.

On both occasions that South Africa have been surprised by England on this tour - the opening Twenty20 and at Centurion - they have bounced back in grand style. They will be eager for the next meeting in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, while England face another test of their confidence.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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