Cricket 18.10.2017 05:58 pm

Brutal AB de Villiers leads Proteas to early series win

AB de Villiers is back and he's dazzling. Photo: Thinus Maritz/Gallo Images.

AB de Villiers is back and he's dazzling. Photo: Thinus Maritz/Gallo Images.

The Proteas’ gifted hitter whacks a magnificent 176 against a shell shocked Bangladesh attack before Andile Phehlukwayo impresses with ball.

The Proteas duly clinched an early ODI series win over Bangladesh on Wednesday with a 104-run win in Paarl.

But it felt a bit like an afterthought.

AB de Villiers made sure of that.

South Africa’s gifted stroke-maker well and truly showed he’s still hungry for international runs as he whacked a magnificent 176 off just 104 balls, leading his side to a massive 353/6.

It was a mesmerising performance that will have many opponents now shuddering about what he could be capable of again in the build-up to the 2019 World Cup.

This was De Villiers’ first international innings since he decided to give up the one-day captaincy and only concentrate on being a senior player.

The first result of that decision has already been spectacular.

De Villiers reached his century off 68 balls.

The scary part about that stat is that it’s only his sixth-fastest century in ODIs.

Of course, he holds the world record for his 31-ball stunner against the West Indies in 2015 and there have been efforts of 52 balls (West Indies in the 2015 World Cup), 57 balls (India in 2015) and 58 balls (India in 2010).

In other words, this ton was “slow”.

De Villiers’ knock is the Proteas’ highest individual score against Bangladesh, beating the unbeaten 168 Quinton de Kock made in Kimberley on Sunday.

It’s also South Africa’s fourth highest in ODI history behind Gary Kirsten (188*), Faf du Plessis (185) and De Kock (178).

As consolation, it’s De Villiers’ career-best score.

The best part of this effort wasn’t it’s eventual brutality, rather the way he constructed his innings.

He came in at 90/2 after the Proteas lost two wickets in the 18th over on a sluggish pitch.

But De Villiers wasn’t going to creep into his shell.

He played calculated, smart cricket in hitting 8 fours in his 34-ball fifty.

Even his first hundred runs only featured one six.

Then he cut loose, smashing a further six over the boundary as a shell-shocked Bangladeshi attack lost its control.

Bangladesh weren’t bad in reply but still outclassed.

Imrul Kayes (68) and Mushfiqur Rahim (60), fresh off a century in Kimberley, batted well but when their stand was broken it was downhill.

Andile Phehlukwayo made a fine impression with the ball, claiming career-best figures of 4/40.

Like De Villiers to an extent, the key to his success was keeping things simple.

On the surface he really only needed to bowl full and straight and did that brilliantly.

Leg-spinner Imran Tahir also chipped in with 3/50 after a difficult start.

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