Bat first, bat big and bat the opposition out of the game. That’s been South Africa’s success mantra in the Men’s World Cup so far. When New Zealand inserted South Africa in to bat after winning the toss, the latter was served an opportunity to repeat it at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Wednesday night.
And it did not disappoint. After Quinton de Kock’s fourth hundred of the tournament and his scintillating partnership with Rassie van der Dussen, the other centurion, helped South Africa pile on a gargantuan 357 for four, it was always going to be quite an uphill task for New Zealand.
The batting line-up that fell one six short of chasing down a target of 389 against Australia in its last outing wilted under the Proteas fire-power.
As a result, well before Glenn Phillips’ counter-attack was over to signal the end of the Kiwi innings for 167, more than half of the 31,940 spectators that had flocked to the stadium had started their arduous journey back to the city.
While Keshav Maharaj took four wickets after the pace pack had taken the fizz out of the chase, the game was set up by de Kock and van der Dussen’s second 200-run partnership of the tournament.
Captain Temba Bavuma was uncharacteristically aggressive — his six off Matt Henry over extra-cover being the standout stroke of the day.
But once he miscued a drive off Trent Boult in the ninth over, van der Dussen joined de Kock at the crease.
For the next 144 minutes, the de Kock and van der Dussen show thrilled the gallery. The duo took its time to get going. At 94 for one in 20 overs, left-arm spinner Rachin Ravindra was welcomed with a huge six in his first over as the next 10-over passage saw the duo add 61 runs.
When de Kock cut a wider slower delivery straight to point off Southee off the last ball of the 40th over, the launchpad had been set for South Africa to finish the innings with a flurry.
David Miller, promoted ahead of Heinrich Klaasen to target the left-arm spin, did not disappoint as South Africa plundered 119 runs in the last 10 overs. The onslaught nearly put the chase out of New Zealand’s reach.
Once the pacers had reduced the Kiwis to 56 for three in the 11th over, the game was all but sealed for Maharaj to finish it off in a hurry.