WELLINGTON (TIP): South Africa cruised to a straightforward 146-run win over the United Arab Emirates Thursday to secure a World Cup quarterfinal berth and seal second place in Pool B behind India.
The Proteas never looked troubled against the amateurs, setting a 342-run target after being sent into bat then bowling the UAE out for 195.
Captain AB de Villiers continued his dominant form with a man-of-the-match performance to smash 99 off 82 balls, while Farhaan Behardien contributed a rollicking 64 from 31.
The dashing right-hander, however, also became only the third batsman in World Cup history to be dismissed on 99 — the other two being Australia’s Adam Gilchrist (2003) and another South African JP Duminy (2011).
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 quarterfinal 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 quarterfinals 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.