SK Flashback: The ABD show at SCG in the 2015 World Cup
It was innovative, memorable, and sensational. It was Ab de Villiers at his best.
What happens when you tilt the rules to favour the batsmen? What happens when you take out most of the assistance available to bowlers? What happens when you a make cricket batsmen friendly? What happens when a confident, skilled and in-form batsman meets a toothless, demotivated and insecure bowling line up?
After winning the toss, South Africa’s top order laid a strong foundation by negating the early seam movement and scoring at a decent rate. Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis both scored half centuries and ensured that the middle order gets to play their natural, aggressive game. They set the stage perfectly for the protagonist to conquer.
Although both departed in the span of three balls, Rilee Rossouw, the next man in, didn’t allow West Indies to gain control as he batted with determined aggression. This gave de Villiers time to settle down and prepare himself for the final assault.
By the time de Villiers smashed his first boundary, Rossouw had scored five fours and had raced to 39 of 25 balls. When the latter reached his half-century in 31 balls, de Villiers announced his intentions by depositing Suleman Benn in the stands over extra cover. That ball was aimed at leg stump and he hit it for a six by going inside out. Incredible was an understatement to describe that shot.
That was just the start; he then scored back to back fours to finish the over and hammered Andre Russell for two consecutive fours in the next over.
Rossouw was out in the 43rd over after scoring 61 runs and de Villiers quickly jumped to a score of 68. He increased his intensity and made a mockery of the West Indies bowlers, sweeping balls pitched way outside off stump over fine leg and even scoring boundaries by batting one-handed.
After 47 overs, South Africa were 330 for 5 and Jason Holder brought himself back to bowl. And what happened next, was nothing less than mayhem and one of the most outrageous batting performances cricket has ever seen!
The first ball went for a four; the second ball, a no-ball, was lofted for a six; the next ball went for two runs; the third ball was another no-ball, and another four; the next ball went for a four; another four followed; the penultimate ball was another two runs; the over was finished off in style with a six. 34 runs in one over!
However, it was not about the runs, it was about the way those runs were scored. Two length balls were hoicked for sixes, the low full toss was swept for four and another one of the same length was reverse swept for four. Batting was not only easy, it was the best thing to do on earth!
This seemed to be the worst hammering Holder could receive, but AB de Villiers - fondly called 'Mr. 360' - was not finished.
The 49th over was comparatively quiet as only 14 runs came from it.
And then Holder came back to bowl and was the finishing act in de Villiers’ toying of the opposition. ABD was truly defining the term ‘360-degree batting’.
Over number 50. First ball, just 2 runs. Holder manages to prevent the big shot but cannot prevent de Villiers from retaining the strike. Next ball, Holder sees ABD shuffling and bowls a short ball to cramp him for room, but de Villiers doesn’t need room. The ball was in the stands over square leg and the umpire signalled six.
Next ball, six again, but in a different area of the stadium using a different body position. The fourth ball was a gift - a full pitched delivery, Holder had given up and was going through the motions and ABD got another four.
The fifth ball, we finally see some orthodox six hitting - de Villiers smokes this one over long on, assuring his fans that he still can hit them in the V. The sixth and final ball was a befitting finish - a full toss, and the ball goes flying over the square leg boundary.
30 runs came from last over and Holder gave 64 runs in his last 12 balls.
South Africa made 408 runs in 50 overs. The first 150 came in 183 balls, the second 150 off 83 balls and the last 108 runs came in a mere 34 balls. ABD scored the fastest 150 in ODI history (64 balls), and moved from 37 to 162 in only 39 balls.
125 runs in 39 balls; and in those 39 deliveries, he scored 22 boundaries. (14 fours, 8 sixes). South Africa smashed 78 runs off their last 20 balls (13 boundaries. 6 fours, 7 sixes). Those are stats usually associated in video games or in gully cricket.
The West Indies fell meekly with the bat, all out for just 151 runs; de Villiers had scored more runs than the entire West Indies team that day!