M R Mishra
New Delhi, Feb 24 (PTI) AB de Villiers smashed anunbeaten century and debutant Imran Tahir scalped four wicketsas South Africa launched their cricket World Cup campaign witha comfortable seven-wicket win over West Indies in a Group-Bleague match here today.
The South Africans first restricted the Caribbeans to 222all out and then relied on de Villiers'' unbeaten 107, his 10thODI ton, to rattle up the runs with 43 balls to spare at theFeroze Shah Kotla. The Proteas scored 223 for three to garnertwo points.
The 31-year-old Pakistan-born Tahir also made a memorableWorld Cup debut to claim four key wickets and return withimpressive figures of 10-1-41-4 while paceman Dale Steyn wasthe other successful bowler with 3/24.
Darren Bravo (73) was the top scorer for the West Indianswho never really got to take control of the innings afterbeing put in to bat by South African skipper Graeme Smith.
The Caribbeans failed to recover from the early jolt oflosing their opener Chris Gayle in the very first over andalthough Devon Smith (36), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (31) andDwayne Bravo (40) got the starts, they could not translatethem into a big knocks.
After Tahir took the bowling honours, de Villiers tookcentrestage with a superb display of strokeplay on whatappeared to be a good track at the Feroze Shah Kotla, hostingits first match since December 2009 after the India-Sri LankaODI was abandoned because of a "dangerous" pitch.
The South African innings began on a disastrous note asthey lost opener Hashim Amla (14) and veteran Jacques Kallis(4) early to be reduced to a precarious 20 for two within fiveovers.
Paceman Kemar Roach drew first blood for the West Indiansby dismissing Amla who edged the ball to wicket keeper DevonThomas. The South Africans asked for a referral and thetelevision umpire upheld the decision.
But the Proteas suffered a huge jolt when Kallis, who hasbeen a vital cog in their batting, was snapped up by SuliemanBenn who began the bowling operations for his team.
It was a gem of a ball from Benn which accounted forKallis'' dismissal as the right-hander went for cover drivebut only succeeded in edging the spinning delivery to DarrenSammy at the lone slip.
The dashing AB de Villiers, who joined his captain GraemeSmith after Kallis'' dismissal, launched a counter-attack tounsettle the Caribbeans and the strategy paid dividends tosome extent as the duo brought up the 50-run partnership injust 55 balls. .