South Africa continued their dominant Cricket World Cup form after dismantling New Zealand by 190 runs at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Wednesday evening.
The Proteas all but sealed their place in the semifinals of the tournament with the crucial win.
In what has become customary for the Proteas, they smashed a mountain of runs while batting first — the 357 they set the Black Caps was the eighth consecutive time South Africa scored more than 300 when batting first.
New Zealand skipper Tom Latham interestingly elected to put South Africa in to bat after winning the toss.
Quinton de Kock (114 off 116) and Rassie van der Dussen (113 off 118) both struck composed centuries as the pair shared an outstanding 200-run second-wicket partnership to put South Africa in a prime position to put on another massive total.
De Kock became the third player in World Cup history to hit four centuries in one tournament, along with Kumar Sangakkara and Rohit Sharma.
David Miller (53 off 30) finished off the innings in stunning fashion.
Left-arm bowlers Keshav Maharaj and Marco Jansen were the destroyers-in-chief with the ball, picking up seven wickets between them to help bowl out the Black Caps for a meagre 167 in 35.3 overs. It was a clinical all-round performance by the men in green.
Quinton and Rassie show
Skipper Temba Bavuma (24 off 28), who has been on a lean run of form in the World Cup, struck it beautifully through the covers early on while the in-form De Kock scratched around.
But it was Bavuma who edged behind to the consistent Trent Boult as the captain continues to search for his first tournament half-century.
Once Van der Dussen and De Kock got together in the ninth over, it was about rebuilding the innings and the pair did so excellently until the 40th over.
New Zealand were stifled by the hamstring injury of opening bowler Matt Henry after 5.3 overs. The Black Caps’ fourth-choice seamer, James Neesham, bowled the remainder of his overs.
Things started slowly and steadily between Van der Dussen and De Kock as they went at around four runs to the over. Van der Dussen notched up his half-century off 61 deliveries, while De Kock took 62.
But the left-right pair opened up their shoulders from the 30th over as De Kock reached his 21st ODI century off only 103 balls with a trademark pick-up six off Neesham. De Kock is now tied with Herschelle Gibbs for the third-most ODI centuries for South Africa, behind Hashim Amla (27) and AB de Villiers (25).
In an exhibition of clean hitting after his slow start, De Kock struck three sixes and 10 fours to become the first South African to score 500 runs in a World Cup.
Veteran Tim Southee eventually picked up De Kock, excellently caught at point by Glenn Phillips, but not before player-of-the-match Van der Dussen reached his second century of the tournament off only 101 balls.
The first-drop batter hit five maximums and nine sweet fours in the knock.
Miller came in at No 4 and immediately added impetus to the innings that was just beginning to soar. The big-hitting left-hander struck it straight and clean, smacking four sixes and two fours.
South Africa continued their excellent finishing, smashing an incredible 119 off the final 10 overs, taking the team’s total from good to great.
Neesham suffered the brunt of the destructive hitting, conceding 69 runs in the 5.3 overs he bowled at an economy rate of 12.55 as South Africa finished on 357 for four.
Outside of the resistance from No 6 Phillips (60 off 50) there was very little threat to the Proteas total from the Black Caps.
South Africa’s star opening bowler Marco Jansen continued his fine form, dismissing South African-born Devon Conway (two off six) with a ball that bounced and nipped back and was excellently caught by Aiden Markram at second slip.
New Zealand’s leading run-scorer in the tournament, Rachin Ravindra, was next in the sheds with nine off 16 after a well-directed bouncer by Jansen. The beanpole all-rounder finished with three wickets in eight overs, conceding 31 runs.
Opener Will Young (33 off 37) offered the best showing by New Zealand’s top order before knicking off a Gerald Coetzee ripper.
New Zealand’s backs were against the wall when Daryl Mitchell (24 off 30) and skipper Latham (four off 15) were worked out by Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada, respectively. New Zealand’s top five were back in the sheds with only 90 runs on the board.
Maharaj ripped through the tail of Mitchell Santner (seven off 18), Neesham (nought off eight) and Boult (nine off 14) to finish on fabulous figures of four wickets in nine overs for 46 runs.
Coetzee finished the match with an excellent bouncer against the resilient Phillips, who struggled for partners.
South Africa once again rose to the top of the table, with 12 points, equal with India but with a far superior net run rate, although India have a match in hand.
The two teams face each other on Sunday for what is likely to be the deciding match for a first-place finish on the table. DM