PUNE– Quinton de Kock and Rassie Van der Dussen revelled in the knowledge that the focus back home has finally shifted from rugby to cricket, striking scintillating hundreds to power South Africa to 357 for 4 against New Zealand at the World Cup here on Wednesday.
De Kock (114 off 116 balls) hit his fourth hundred of the tournament to go level with Kumar Sangakkara, who achieved the feat in 2015 edition, while Van der Dussen blazed away to a 118-ball 133.
For record, only three batters have scored four or more centuries in a single World Cup edition.
David Miller blasted 53 in 30 balls to provide the final flourish, barely days after the whole country was basking in its rugby team’s record fourth World Cup triumph in Paris.
Taking dew into account, New Zealand’s stand-in skipper Tom Latham opted to bowl first at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium whose stands were half-full with some people gathered outside when the in-form De Kock and skipper Temba Bavuma walked out to bat.
After Bavuma’s dismissal, in De Kock and Van der Dussen the South Africans had the perfect duo to set the tone, and they did exactly that with a 200-run partnership in little over 30 overs.
Dealing with two set batters was not the only challenge for the Kiwis as they also had players getting injured, the last thing for a team that was already grappling with injuries to key players heading into this match.
After Matt Henry hurt his right hamstring and received treatment, Jimmy Nesham also had some injury issues.
Batting on 104 off 105 balls, Van der Dussen shifted gears and launched into Neesham for two consecutive sixes, the first one was thanks to Trent Boult tipping the ball over the ropes while trying to catch it. Then, Van der Dussen carted Tim Southee for a maximum over long-on.
By the time De Kock and Van der Dussen were dismissed, they had done enough for South Africa to aim for 350. Miller produced a few big hits to prop them up towards the end.
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