Cricketer of the week (February 23rd-March 1st) – AB de Villiers (South Africa)

South Africa entered into their Pool B encounter versus the West Indies at the Sydney Cricket Ground(SCG) on Friday, looking to get their 2015 World Cup campaign back on track following a 130-run loss to India in Melbourne the previous Sunday.

After two unsuccessful attempts, AB de Villiers called it right the third time at the toss and elected to bat first on a good looking pitch. The Proteas suffered a early jolt, losing Quinton de Kock for 12, but Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis brought their side back into the game, by stitching together a 127-run stand for the second wicket. Chris Gayle, though, restored balance to the match by removing both the batsman in quick succession and at 146 for 3 in the 30th over, de Villiers made his way to join Rilee Rossouw in the middle.

The 31-year-old played second fiddle to the left-hander Rossouw at the start and brought up his first boundary only off the 18th delivery that he faced, However, he changed gears dramatically after that, taking just 13 more balls to get to his half-century mark, courtesy a four over cover off the bowling of Sulieman Benn.

Once he reached his fifty, he did not let the West Indian bowlers have a moment of peace and brought up his 20th ODI century in just 52 balls. It was the second fastest hundred ever recorded in the history of the World Cup, taking two more deliveries than Kevin O’Brien’s blistering ton versus England at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru during the 2011 edition of the tournament.

Fastest 150 in the history of ODI cricket

The carnage though didn’t stop there as the right-hander tore the Caribbean attack to pieces, much to the joy of the South African fans in the crowd. His counterpart Jason Holder received some serious punishment at the hands of de Villiers, who smashed him for 34 runs in the 48th over, en route to the fastest 150 in the history of 50-over cricket and then hammered him for 30 runs in the final over of the innings to eventually finish on 162 not out off 66 balls that helped his side post a mammoth 408 for 5 in their 50 overs.

The West Indies were never in the game once they lost Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Smith cheaply and despite some lusty hitting by Holder lower down the order, they succumbed to a huge 257-run loss at the hands of the Proteas.

There was never really going to be any doubt about who the player of the match was as AB de Villiers took the award home for his scintillating effort with the bat.

Rossouw made batting look easy: de Villiers

Speaking after the game, the Royal Challengers Bangalore(RCB) batsman said he wasn’t feeling too well when he went to the middle and complemented the role played by Rossouw during his stand of 134 runs with the left-hander.

“Rilee played a big part today in me getting off my feet. I didn’t feel too well when I was walking out to bat, really flat, and he had a lot of energy about him, a lot of intensity.He was getting into really good positions, making it look flat out there, which wasn’t the case the previous 10 or 15 overs. So I fed a lot off him,” he said.

There were few question marks raised about how far South Africa would progress in the World Cup, when they comprehensively lost to India, but courtesy his extraordinary performance, de Villiers has certainly sent out a clear statement to all the teams in the competition and made his and his team’s intentions very clear.