AB de Villiers almost denied himself the opportunity to bat on a Wanderers' belter because he thought there was someone else who could finish off what Rilee Rossouw and Hashim Amla started with more of a flourish.
"I approached Russell Domingo about four or five times saying, 'Are you sure me and not David Miller?' and he said 'Yes, sure,' and then two or three overs later, Sulieman Benn came back and I went to Russell for a final time and said 'Maybe him now?' and he still said, 'No, you'. Russell feels I can inject us with fuel, momentum, which I can do but I just felt David could do it better," de Villiers explained afterwards. "It was just my day." And what a day it was.
De Villiers was called on with 11-and-a-half overs to go in the South Africa innings and needed less than half of those to shatter the world record for the fastest century, rack up his own career-best and take the team to their highest ODI total. All of that took place at what seemed like fast-forward, which was part of de Villiers' plan.
"My thinking was just to be aggressive. I had no pressure on me. I could free up nicely, knowing that if I get out, there are quite a few guys to come who could hit the ball," he said. "You don't very often just come in and get momentum behind you right away. More often than not, you've got to work for it. Today was an exception. Out of nowhere, you hit a couple in the middle and then start going. Sometimes you've got to work harder to get that sniff, or get that click. Today it just happened from the word go."
The surface had something to do with de Villiers' success, which is also why he wanted Miller, who scored quickly on a sluggish Durban pitch two days' ago, to come in ahead of him at first. "On this kind of wicket and on this field, if you're in decent kind of form and you swing hard and you get a bit of luck behind you, you can do amazing things," he said.
But the truth was that de Villiers' own ability accounted for much more of the record-breaking show. He seemed to know which shot he was going to play before the bowler had released his delivery, a result of time spent analysing the batsmen before him and a desire to take the fight to the opposition attack.
"I sit in front of the TV and I watch every ball when we bat and I try and look at what's happening. I walk out there knowing how I want to play my innings but it's very rare I walk out there thinking I am going to go at 200 strike rate from ball one. Today was one of those games and still, I needed a lot of luck to bat the way I did," he said.
"You have to sort of read the game a little bit to see what the bowler is trying to do. You can't just let him bowl at you, you have to try and take the initiative and put him under a bit of pressure. I don't know how many balls I faced, I premeditated but you've got to take the initiative and take the attack to the bowler, instead of him bowling to you."
As de Villiers dictated proceedings, West Indies found themselves being winded and could not figure out how to come up for air. "We were just trying to bowl wide to him but it wasn't working," Denesh Ramdin said. "We didn't set the appropriate fields. He came out there and played his game and he just kept going and going." In the end the West Indian wicketkeeper admitted he was treated to "one of the best ODI innings I have ever seen; in the history of cricket."
Praise like that keeps de Villiers motivated and he hopes that can rub off on the team on the way to the World Cup. "Performances like this helps the confidence. That's what I believe 80 or 90% of sport is about - believing in yourself as a team and as an individual and you can see the difference between teams that play with confidence and teams that don't," de Villiers said. "I'd like to believe we are getting more confidence behind us. That's what this series is all about: for us to play well and get confidence and to go to the World Cup believing we are the best in the world. No team has ever won the World Cup not thinking they are the best. You've got to believe you are the best and I think we are close to that."