Proteas glaringly missing aura that de Villiers provided

Updated June 10, 2019

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The historic Sydney Cricket Ground was set ablaze by the then South African captain. — AFP/File
The historic Sydney Cricket Ground was set ablaze by the then South African captain. — AFP/File

KARACHI: With their World Cup campaign now on cusp of a humiliating exit, South Africa now prepare themselves for a superhuman mission if they wish to go deep into the tournament. Their latest opponents are the unpredictable West Indies, against whom the Proteas have won four of their six matches on the biggest stage.

The mystery surrounding A.B. de Villiers’s premature decision to quit is one major controversy that has started to take its toll on the South Africans. The misfortune of losing their mega star is hurting them big time. In the last World Cup it was de Villiers who delivered the knockout punch on the West Indies bowling with arguably the most spectacular display of sensational strokes.

The historic Sydney Cricket Ground was set ablaze by the then South African captain. That day in February 2015 de Villiers smashed way to a brilliant 162 not out from mere 66 deliveries as the right-hander bludgeoned 17 boundaries and eight sixes while powering his side to their best World Cup score of 408-5.

Imran Tahir then bamboozled the West Indian batting with his leg-spin while grabbing 5-45 as South Africa equalled the then biggest win by runs — 257 — a World Cup record that lasted just six days when Australia annihilated debutants Afghanistan by 275 runs in Perth.

The first-ever encounter between these teams was in the 1992 World Cup at Christchurch’s Lancaster Park where West Indies slipped to 136 all out after their top-order was ripped out by Meyrick Pringle — 4-11 in eight overs — as the tall seamer accounted for the prized trio of Brian Lara, captain Richie Richardson and Carl Hooper, all for single figures.

Lara, however, extracted sweet revenge four years later when the gifted left-hander’s 111 from 94 balls set up a 19-run quarter-final win at Karachi’s National Stadium. The legendary Trinidadian, curiously enough, scored only two World Cup centuries during his illustrious career and both came in winning cause against the Proteas. The other three-figure knock was 116 at the captivating Newlands in Cape Town in a thrilling opening fixture of the 2003 competition.

The subsequent two World Cup encounters easily went South Africa’s way. De Villiers was at it again with a big hundred — 146 off 130 deliveries — to enable his team collect 356-4 before 2007 hosts West Indies ended up totalling 289-9 with Ramnaresh Sarwan making a 75-ball 92. The Delhi clash in the 2011 World Cup saw de Villiers rack up another century (107 off 105 balls) as the Proteas sealed the match in the 43rd over after West Indies had been bowled out for 222 by Imran Tahir (4-41) and Dale Steyn (3-24).

Head-to-head summary

Feb 26, 1992 — Christchurch, South Africa won by 64 runs

March 11, 1996 —Karachi, West Indies won by 19 runs

Feb 9, 2003 —Cape Town, West Indies won by three runs

April 10, 2007 —St George’s, South Africa won by 67 runs

Feb 24, 2011 —Delhi, South Africa won by seven wickets

Feb 27, 2015 —Sydney, South Africa won by 257 runs.

Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2019