Wellington – South African hero AB de Villiers admitted to
nerves and battling a fear of failure as he produced a record-setting innings
that led to a colossal win over New Zealand on Saturday.
Only a “deep, deep hunger to succeed,” helped him
overcome his emotions to lead his side to a 159-run win in the third one-day
international in Wellington to go 2-1 up in the five-match series.
De Villiers’ 85 off 80 balls pulled South Africa out of a
middle-order slump during a match-changing innings in which he became the
fastest players to reach 9 000 ODI runs.
South Africa eventually reached 271 for eight in their 50
overs before Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo led a bowling attack that
rolled New Zealand for 112 in 32.2 overs.
“I was nervous walking out especially when we started
losing a few wickets. Looking up at the scoreboard I thought ‘oh my word we’re
looking at 160-180 if we get bowled out’ which I don’t think would have been
enough,” he said.
“There are lots of doubts walking out no matter what
your record is.
“But I had a feeling it was going to be important to
bat through and to be there at the end.”
As South Africa produced an emphatic response after losing
to New Zealand in the second match on Wednesday, New Zealand captain Kane
Williamson was left to wonder how his side could be outsmarted in home
“They certainly deserved the win, they outplayed
us,” he said.
“They were able to get a bit of seam movement. Not only
do you get a bit of assistance but you do have to put the ball in the right
area and they were able to do that. They bowled very well.”
South Africa were keen to bat first when they won the toss
and while they had their jitters de Villiers had support from Quinton de Kock
(68) to give their innings some respectability.
New Zealand’s reply started disastrously with openers Tom
Latham (nought) and Dean Brownlie (two) gone inside three overs.
Kane Williamson, on four, should have joined them but Hashim
Amla failed to grasp a regulation catch at first slip.
It was a short-lived reprieve, however, as Williamson
struggled to 23 when he was bowled by Phehlukwayo and Ross Taylor (18) went lbw
to Pretorius in the following over.
Colin de Grandhomme’s unbeaten 34 and Jimmy Neesham’s 13
where the only other scores in double figures as Pretorius took three for five
off 32 deliveries and Phehlukwayo finished with two for 12 off 30 balls.
On a wicket that looked full of runs, South African opener
Amla was unable to settle and went early for seven.
But de Kock had no problems as he posted his fifth
successive half century following innings of 55 and 109 against Sri Lanka and
then 69 and 57 in the first two matches of this five-game series.
His 68 in Wellington came off 70 deliveries and included two
sixes and six fours.
Faf du Plessis offered some support with 36 but otherwise
there was little resistance until de Villiers set up the big finish supported
by Wayne Parnell who added 35 at the tail.
When de Villiers clouted Lockie Ferguson to the boundary off
the fifth ball he faced he became the fastest batsman to total 9 000 ODI runs
reaching the milestone in his 205th innings.
The previous record was 228 held by India’s Sourav Ganguly.
Of the 18 batsmen in the 9 000-plus club, de Villiers also
has the best average of 54.04 and best strike rate of 100.00.
De Grandhomme, who took the wickets of de Kock and du
Plessis in the space of four balls had the best figures for New Zealand of two