Cricketer of the Week (February 9-15): David Miller
South Africa began the quest to win their maiden World Cup by defeating Zimbabwe by 62 runs in their opening encounter of the 2015 World Cup at Seddon Park, Hamilton, on Saturday.
Sent in to bat after losing the toss, AB de Villiers’ men were in early trouble after an incisive spell by the Zimbabweans reduced them to 67 for 3 in 17 overs. David Miller walked out to join his captain in the middle as the duo began to get their side back on track. The Proteas found themselves in further trouble at 83 for 4, however, after de Villiers was dismissed for 25, courtesy of a stunning catch by Craig Ervine, and the onus was now on Miller to help his side put up a competitive score on the board.
Rescued the Proteas after a poor start
The left-hander started his innings on an aggressive note, hitting his first six off just his 5th delivery. He then kept the scoreboard ticking by combining ones and twos with the occasional boundary, reaching his half-century off just 55 balls.
On reaching the landmark, he started to unleash his vast array of strokes on the Zimbabwean attack, hitting them to all parts of the ground, and in partnership with JP Duminy, brought his side back into the game.
He reached his century courtesy of a single off the bowling of Tinashe Panyangara, with his second fifty taking a mere 26 deliveries. It was his second hundred in his 64th ODI.
The 25-year-old didn’t stop there, however, as he continued to hammer the bowlers and finished not out on 138 off just 92 balls, with 7 fours and 9 huge sixes. Duminy got a hundred of his own and the duo put on a world record 256 runs for the fifth wicket to help the South Africans post an imposing score of 339 for 4 in their 50 overs.
In reply, Zimbabwe looked on course to chase down the total but following the dismissal of Brendon Taylor for 40, they lost their way and were bowled out for 277 in 48.2 overs.
Miller was rightly adjudged the Man of the Match for his brilliant performance.
Miller is capable of demolishing attacks: de Villiers
The Kings XI Punjab batsman received rich praise from de Villiers, who said that he was thrilled to see him tear apart bowling attacks on a global stage, after the match.
"We have seen David demolish the attacks like that and he is capable of that," de Villiers said.
"To see at this high level and in this biggest tournament is great and it shows where this guy is going in his career.
"There is no doubt that played a good part in getting them ahead early on as it was a really difficult wicket to bat on in the first 15 to 20 overs.It got easier and luckily David and JP made full use of that and played exceptionally well in that great partnership that won us the game today,” he added.
One of South Africa's big strengths in this tournament is the amount of depth they have at their disposal in the batting and bowling departments. This certainly came to good use on Saturday, as despite losing the likes of Faf du Plessis, de Villiers and Hashim Amla cheaply, they managed to put on a score well over 300 in their 50 overs.