WELLINGTON: AB de Villiers first scored 82-ball 99 and then took a couple of wickets as South Africa easily overpowered tournament minnows UAE by 146 runs in World Cup Pool B match and confirmed their quarterfinal place here at Westpac Stadium.
South Africa batted first in the match and put on board a big 341-6 run total with De Villiers top scoring for the side. The captain smashed four sixes and six boundaries before Kamran Shahzad took the big wicket.
Farhaan Behardien later played a whirlwind and unbeaten 64 off only 31 balls with the help of three sixes and five boundaries.
AFP adds: Seamer Vernon Philander (2-34) also made a successful return from injury, with South Africa’s only negative the continued poor form of opening bat Quinton de Kock (26).
The win, which sets up a likely quarter-final clash with Sri Lanka in Sydney next Wednesday, will help erase memories of South Africa’s shock loss to Pakistan in their previous Pool B outing.
De Villiers said the pre-tournament favourites were confident going into the final eight, despite losses to India and Pakistan in the group stages.
“I’m extremely happy, it’s never a given that you’re going to make the quarter-finals in the World Cup,” he said.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us as a team. We’ve got a lot of people back home who we represent and this is the position we want to be in, representing them in a quarter-final knock-out match. We’re very excited.”
The result leaves the UAE winless at the tournament, with their final chance to snatch a victory coming against the West Indies in Napier on Sunday.
UAE captain Mohammad Tauqir surprisingly opted to bowl first on a pitch that appeared perfect for batting, with the decision paying early dividends when Hashim Amla miscued a pull shot to depart on 12.
De Kock and Rilee Rossouw made the most of some wayward bowling in a 68-run partnership, with Rossouw the aggressor as de Kock tried to play himself into form.
But the youngster’s woes continued when he nicked an edge to the keeper on 26, leaving him with an average of under eight from his six innings at the tournament.
Rossouw (43) followed three overs later, deceived by a slower ball from Tauqir that he scooped straight back to the bowler.
South Africa were looking unexpectedly shaky at 96 for three and it could have been worse, with David Miller and de Villiers both surviving early scares.
They made the most of their reprieves to bring up 100 off 99 balls, with de Villiers notching his 45th one-day international half century.
Miller fell just short of his own half century, clean bowled by Mohammad Naveed on 49 attempting a pull shot.
De Villiers stepped up the pace after being dropped on 65, blasting sixes from consecutive deliveries off Amjad Javed.
But Javed had his revenge when he caught de Villiers on 99 as the skipper tried to bring up his century with a flashy boundary.
However Behardien proved just as destructive as South Africa plundered 25 runs off the UAE’s final over to set up a total that never looked within reach.
The Sharjah-based amateurs lost an early wicket when Andri Berenger (5) fell to a spectacular one-handed diving catch from Rossouw off the bowling of Morkel.
They were not disgraced, with Swapnil Patil grinding out a hard-fought 57 not out and Shaiman Anwar making 39 as the UAE reached 108 for four at one point.
But the run rate at no point approached the 6.82 an over needed for victory and the match had petered out as a contest long before Kamran Shazad was caught at mid-on in the 48th over.