South Africa off to winning start in World Cup

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The Independent Online

ODI debutant Imran Tahir and AB de Villiers led South Africa to an emphatic seven-wicket win over West Indies in their World cup Group B encounter in Delhi today.

Sent in to bat, West Indies struggled for most of the innings due to spinner Tahir's figures of four for 41 and paceman Dayle Steyn's three for 24, but half-brothers Darren (73) and Dwayne Bravo (40) managed to edge the total to 222.

The Proteas were rattled in the opening exchanges of their chase - Hashim Amla (14) and Jacques Kallis (four) falling inside five overs - but de Villiers (107 not out) and skipper Graeme Smith (45) shared a 119-run stand to set up a victory that came with more than seven overs to spare.

Earlier in the day, spinner Johan Botha (two for 48) gave South Africa the perfect start when Chris Gayle was caught at slip from only the third ball of the day, but Darren Bravo and Devon Smith did well to recover.

However, the second-wicket partnership and Bravo's individual innings came to an end on 73 each when the left-hander was given out lbw off Botha.

Tahir dispatched Devon Smith (36) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (two) in successive overs, while Dwayne Bravo hit three sixes for his 40 but was run out to leave the score at 178 for five.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul (31) held the fort alongside Devon Thomas (14) before he was caught at long-off, while Kieron Pollard failed to ignite the closing overs, adjudged lbw to Steyn after a referral for a first-ball duck.

In reply, Smith and de Villiers helped South Africa fight back confidently from their early setbacks. West Indies' woes deepened with Dwayne Bravo having to leave the game with a knee injury, while de Villiers smashed a six off Gayle to bring up his run-a-ball 50.

Smith's 78-ball 45 was ended when he was bowled by Pollard but South Africa's foundations had been laid by then.

Even a brief rain interruption in the 37th over could not affect the momentum as JP Duminy's unbeaten 42 provided ample support to de Villiers - who eased to the fastest World Cup hundred by a South African - and the duo's 84-run stand was enough to see them through.

Meanwhile the International Cricket Council have apologised on behalf of the host union to Cricket South Africa and the Proteas for the technical fault that caused their National Anthem to be cut short before the start of today's match.