SYDNEY, Australia, CMC – West Indies were stunned back to reality following their recent revival, suffering the joint worst-ever defeat in World Cup history as South Africa claimed a massive 257-run victory in their ICC Cricket World Cup contest here yesterday.
Having set quite a few records in beating Zimbabwe on Tuesday, West Indies again made history but for all the wrong reasons this time, en route to a demoralizing loss at the Sydney Cricket Ground which left them with two wins and two defeats from their four outings.
They watched as the Proteas piled up 408 for five off their 50 overs – the second highest total in a World Cup and the highest-ever on Australian soil – with captain AB de Villiers tormenting them again with a glorious unbeaten 162 off a mere 66 balls.
The right-hander’s 20th one-day hundred was the fastest ever 150 in one-dayers, helping to propel the South Africans to a whopping 261 runs in the last 20 overs of the innings.
Opener Hashim Amla hit 65 off 88 balls, Faf du Plessis 62 off 70 balls and Rilee Rossouw, 61 off 39 deliveries in support.
In reply, West Indies crumbled for an embarrassing 151 all out off 33.1 overs, to tie with Bermuda for the worst defeat in a World Cup.
The Bermudians were hammered by the same margin by India in the 2007 edition of the World Cup in the Caribbean.
Leg-spinner Imran Tahir was the architect of the Windies demise, claiming five for 45 while pacers Morne Morkel (2-23) and Kyle Abbott (2-37) finished with two wickets apiece.
Captain Jason Holder hammered 56 off 48 balls for his maiden one-day half-century while opener Dwayne Smith got 31, but West Indies never recovered after sliding to 63 for seven in the 18th over.
Holder added 45 for the eighth wicket with wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin who struck 22 and a further 42 for the ninth wicket with Jerome Taylor, who was 15 not out, but the efforts never came close to making a dent in the run chase.
There was nothing hinting at what was to come when West Indies, asked to bowl first, reduced the usually free-scoring South Africa to 58 for one after 15 overs – a run rate of under four an over.
New ball bowlers Holder and Jerome Taylor strangled the Proteas openers up front, and Quinton de Kock (12) eventually lost his patience and slapped a short one from the Windies skipper to point where Andre Russell took a regulation catch, at 18 for one in the sixth over.
Amla and du Plessis consolidated with a 127-run stand for the second wicket but even then, West Indies still kept the scoring rate in check.
The right-handed Amla, who faced 88 deliveries, failed to find the boundary until he cut left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn for his only four in the 16th over. He also hit one six.
Du Plessis, meanwhile, never scored freely either, and consumed 70 balls and struck three fours.
Gayle got the breakthrough when he claimed both in the space of three balls in the 30th over.
Du Plessis edged an ambitious drive behind to Ramdin and two balls later, Amla played back and was an easy lbw verdict.
West Indies could not build on that success, however, as de Villiers and Rossouw combined to dominate the rest of the innings.
De Villiers clobbered 17 fours and eight sixes while Rossouw, a left-hander, counted six fours and a six.
The right-handed de Villiers started quietly, busily gathering 19 from his first 18 deliveries before exploding. He reached his fifty off 30 balls and incredulously needed just 22 more deliveries to complete three figures – the second fastest World Cup hundred ever.
He then stormed to his next 50 off a mere 13 balls, belting 34 runs off the 48th over bowled by Holder and another 30 runs off the final over from the lanky 23-year-old.
Along the way, he added 48 for the fifth wicket with David Miller (20) and an amazing 80 off 20 balls for the fifth wicket with Farhaan Behardien (10 not out).
Needing a whirlwind start, the Windies slumped to 16 for two in the fourth over in quick time. Gayle missed a swing at pacer Kyle Abbott in the second over and was bowled for three at 12 for one and vice-captain Marlon Samuels nicked a drive behind off the same bowler in his next over to depart without scoring.
Smith hit four fours and a six off 34 balls in adding 36 for the third wicket with Jonathan Carter (10) whose maiden World Cup innings ended when he mis-timed a pull off Morkel for de Villiers to take a catch running around at wide mid-on, at 52 for three at the end of the 11th over.
Smith then senselessly holed out to long off Imran Tahir off the first ball of the next over and with just one run added in the same over, Lendl Simmons pushed forward and was lbw without scoring, though replays showed a healthy inside edge.
Darren Sammy (5) and Russell (0) fell to Imran Tahir in the 18th over, the bowler’s fourth, to leave the Windies in strife and in danger of being dismissed under 100 for only the second time in a World Cup.
However, Holder arrived to belt three fours and four sixes, and help West Indies avoid this ignominy.