South Africa whip Netherlands

South Africa signaled their intent to play brave, aggressive cricket in a great show of strength in their opening World Cup match win against the Netherlands. After struggling in their two warm up games, scraping a win against Ireland and losing by 7 wickets to Pakistan, many were left wondering whether or not South Africa would be able to live up to their number one world ranking. They were always expected to win this matched that pitted the top team against the bottom team competing in the tournament, but the manner in which they achieved this predicted victory would be closing watched by both their supporters and detractors. Although ranked first, many leading voices have looked past South Africa as a team that wrestle the cup from Australia’s grasp. They’ll have to wait until they face Australia on the 24th to prove that they are serious contenders for the cup, but they warmed up in style against the Netherlands. In a match that was frustratingly delayed due to early rain leaving a wet outfield, the match was reduced to 40 overs per innings. South Africa were put into bat by the Netherlands and promptly lost AB de Villiers who edged a wide delivery from Stelling to keeper Smits for a second ball duck. After a cautious few overs off assessing the pitch and some good bowling by Stelling, South Africa launched a spectacular, calculated, assault on the hapless Netherlands bowlers. Kallis steadily went on to, surprisingly, his first World Cup century, ending with some big shots that took him to an undefeated 128 from 109 balls. Those batting around him took on aggressive roles as the ball flew rapidly all over the ground as the small boundaries were no match for the South African big hitters. Smith started the assault with his 67 off 59 balls, but it was Gibbs who set the match and the tournament alight. Moving steadily at just over a run a ball into the 30’s Gibbs suddenly laid into the unfortunate spin bowling of van Bunge hitting him for 6 sixes in an over, the first time this has been achieved in a ODI or in any international match. The first of three new records set by South Africa in this match. Unknown to many Johnny Walker had pledged 1million dollars to the charity of choice to anyone who achieved this. A very generous gesture that will be greatly appreciated by whichever charity Gibbs chooses. Well done to Johnny Walker and Gibbs too. Gibbs skied one a couple of overs later to be out for an entertaining 72 from just 40 balls. Boucher was next in and looked in fine form from the first ball he faced as he went on to break Brian Lara’s record for the fastest 50 in World Cup history. Lara set the record against Canada in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. Conversely a South African broke his record in the West Indies. Boucher brought up his 50 off just 20 balls and finished not out on 75 off 31 balls. South Africa’s total of 353/3 saw them go past Sri Lanka’s record for most sixes in a World Cup match, hitting 18 sixes in their 40 overs. We can only speculate how many sixes they would have hit or what total they could have achieved had they been able to face the full 50 overs from a tired and dejected Dutch bowling attack. The record for most runs in an innings would have been within reach.
In a match they were always expected to win it was the manner, the brutality and efficiency, that would have made the other teams take notice and ensure that South Africa approach the game against Australia in high spirits and fine form. The Netherlands innings served to give all the bowlers a few overs turn their arms over without over extending themselves. Pollock was his usual miserly self conceding just 4 runs and picking up a wicket in his 6 overs. This meant that the already daunting required run rate kept rising and meant that instead of going down in a blaze of glory the Netherlands were content to bat out there 40 overs. They managed to do this with one wicket in hand. An interesting aspect of the South African bowling was that Smith bowled 8 overs of his spin, the most overs of all the bowlers. With South Africa not picking a specialist spin bowler in their eleven its further evidence that they plan to go into the remainder of the matches without a spin bowler with Smith filling that particular role if needed, The highlight for the Netherlands will have been a very well played 57 from Ryan ten Doeschate, who looked accomplished and assured throughout his innings. A great start for the South Africans and they’ll be hoping to carry this form on to the tougher matches, starting with Australia and moving on to the Super 8. They’ll be looking for a similar performance against Scotland before that though

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