South Africa overcame a middle order batting collapse thanks to a fine innings from JP Duminy and then their bowlers made short work of Ireland’s chase to post a big win in their Group B match of the ICC Cricket World cup. The win at the hallowed Eden Gardens in Kolkata ensured South Africa went to the top of the standings in Group B and also made the last eight. The battle will now be for the remaining three positions between India, West Indies, Bangladesh and England.
On an overcast afternoon, Ireland won the toss and decided to field first. Hashim Amla fell to a brilliant catch from George Dockrell after playing an upper cut and Graeme Smith was run out by a direct hit from John Mooney at midwicket. In between the first and second wickets, Morne Van Wyk took the attack by the scruff of the neck and flayed the bowlers all around even though some of the shots did not come off the middle of the bat. Van Wyk was dropped twice as well – first by Kevin O’Brien when he was on 4 and then by Paul Stirling when on 23.
In the company of Jacques Kallis too, Van Wyk played attacking cricket as he took 14 runs off one Trent Johnston over. He was dismissed soon by a flighted delivery from the young Dockrell that beat the bat and crashed on to the stumps. South Africa were in a real spot of bother in the 21st over when Kallis ran himself out, not running as quickly as we would have liked to. Kallis had played some good shots in his brief innings, notable being the cut for four off Dockrell. The Irish bowlers tightened things a bit and the result was the wicket of Faf du Plessis, one of the heroes of the win against India. Paul Stirling flighted a delivery, got the ball to turn away from the batsman who played the ball straight to slip. 117/5 and Ireland were cock-a hoop.
Colin Ingram, who was in the playing eleven because AB De Villiers was injured, steadied the rocking boat with JP Duminy. Ingram was intent on attacking while Duminy preferred to play sheet anchor. Ingram started with a boundary through covers against Mooney and eased the pressure every now and then with boundaries. Duminy worked the ball around for the singles and showed some attacking intent by reverse sweeping Stirling for four. The partnership of 87 runs at 6.60 an over ended when Ingram played across the line to a full length delivery from Johnston and was bowled.
Duminy had reached his fifty just before Ingram was dismissed and now had Johan Botha as partner. Botha straightaway reverse swept Stirling for a four. The batting Powerplay was taken in the 46th over. Duminy now began the attacking phase of his innings as he warmed up with a boundary to square leg off Mooney. In the 49th over bowled by Johnston, he plundered 17 runs with a four off a full toss, a six over square leg and an edged four to third man. He couldn’t get his century as he was agonizingly dismissed for 99 when he tried to clear the ground but found Kevin O’Brien take a one handed catch.
South Africa ended their innings at 272/7 and Graeme Smith would have been happy at the total which looked beyond reach when half his side was gone for 117. Thanks to Duminy, Ingram and Botha, the total swelled and Ireland had a tough chase against Dale Steyn and Co. in hand at the innings break.
William Porterfield got an encouraging start when he pulled Steyn to fine leg for four but was dismissed by Morne Morkel when he had the batsman edging to first slip. Morkel found true bounce from the pitch and had Stirling too caught at slips. The introduction of Jacques Kallis into the attack brought immediate rewards as Niall O’Brien tried to smash him through the covers but succeeded only in getting the faintest of edges that carried to wicket keeper Van Wyk.
When Ed Joyce missed a sweep shot and was trapped in front, they had slid to 51/4 and their only hope was Kevin O’Brien who was due for a big score after his pyrotechnics against England. Along with Gary Wilson he added 41 runs but both of them fell in the same over to push Ireland back. O’Brien tried to clear the ground but found the fielder at long off while Wilson was struck on the pads in front of the wicket. Robin Peterson was the bowler who gave the double joy for South Africa.
The rest of the batting folded soon as they were bundled out for 141 in the 34th over. Morkel and Peterson picked three wickets each, Kallis took two and Botha and Duminy chipped in with a wicket each as once again their bowling tore apart the opposition batting. The big win by 131 runs ensured a big net run rate for South Africa and they became the first team in Group B to make it to the quarter finals.
South Africa will be pleased with their efforts of the night. The absence of de Villiers was not felt as Ingram played his role to perfection. Duminy was as reliable as always and the lower order chipped in for some crucial runs. Graeme Smith’s form is of concern but hopefully he will turn things around when the knockout stages start. The bowling is one of the best attacks in the tournament and never allowed the batsmen to settle. The bounce of the pitch was very much to their liking. With one game against Bangladesh left, the Proteas will hope they can finish their league encounters by topping Group B.
Ireland will be disappointed with their showing today after their performances in the previous four matches. The South African bowling was too hot for their batsmen to handle. The bowlers disappointed by not strangling the South African batsmen when they were in trouble. But the experience they have gained from this match will stand them in good stead for the future. They will expect to sign off with a win against the Netherlands on Friday.