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Proteas start World Cup campaign on triumphant note

AB de Villiers (107 n.o.) and debutant spinner Imran Tahir (4/41) led the charge as South Africa thrashed West Indies by seven wickets with 7.1 overs to spare to start their title campaign in Cricket World Cup on a rousing note at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium here this evening.

Needing 223 runs to win, the Proteas reached the target losing only three wickets.

Earlier, South African skipper Graeme Smith took a calculated risk, inviting West Indians to bat after winning the toss on a newly laid untested pitch and opened his attack by handing the ball to off-spinner Johan Botha.

The first over was full of drama with Botha getting rid of dangerous Chris Gayle, who abandoned all caution and went on the attack from the very first ball. He paid the price as he edged the spinner and Jaques Kallis took a simple catch at slip. This happened off the fourth ball. The opener made only two runs.

Next batsman Darren Bravo survived a confident leg before appeal with umpire Simon Taufel tuning down the big shout. The South Africans asked for the UDRS (Umpire Decision Review System) which also upheld Taufel's decision.

Bravo, along with opener Devon Smith then batted cautiously and the runs started to flow and it looked as if Smith may rue his decision to field first.

Bravo was the more aggressive of the two and reached his half century - his third ODI half ton - off 55 balls.

Smith brought in Tahir into the attack and Bravo greeted him with a huge six. The West Indians crossed the 100 run mark in 20 overs and the former world champions looked set for a huge total.

But, as has been their wont in recent times, the West Indies batting collapsed dramatically and for no reason.

Bravo was trapped leg before by Botha when he was on 73 (82 balls, 8x4, 1x6). He appealed against the decision, but umpire Amisha's decision was upheld by the third umpire.

Bravo and Smith added 111 runs off 136 balls for the second wicket, but after that, barring Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo, no other batsmen could face the guiles of Tahir, Botha and Steyn.

Ramnaresh Sarwan (2) was trapped leg before by Tahir. The batsman also sought UDRS but found his appeal rejected. Devon Smith, who was batting confidently, lost his concentration and gave a simple return catch to Tahir and West Indies slipped from 113 for one to 120 for 4 in just three overs.

A 58-run fifth wicket partnership again raised hopes of a big total, for the West Indians, but Bravo's suicidal run out dashed those hopes. Chanderpaul attempted a reverse sweep off Tahir and Bravo charged out without realising that Morkel had stopped the ball and thrown towards the wicketkeeper. The batsman was stranded as the ball hit the wicket.

Bravo hit three huge sixes off Tahir, Botha and Peterson and looked good to take West Indies to a safe total before disaster struck. His 40 runs came off 37 balls and also included one hit to the fence.

Tahir then got rid of Chanderpaul, who had hit Peterson for a six in the previous over. This time Peterson took the catch. The batsman contributed 31 runs off 51 balls, hitting one four and a six.

Steyn then ran through the tail and West Indies, who at one stage were at 209 for 5, could add only 13 runs in 4.1 overs to be all out for 222 with 15 balls to spare.

Tahir's figures of 4 for 41 earned him the distinction of being the best World Cup bowler for South Africa on debut.

Steyn showed why he is considered the best fast bowler in the world with figures of 3 for 24 off 7.3 overs.

Overall, it was a tentative batting display by the West Indies while South Africa excelled both in bowling and fielding.

Darren Sammy also took a leaf from his counterpart's book and introduced left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn to open the attack. However, it was Kemar Roach who got the early breakthrough when he had in-form Hashim Amla caught by wicketkeeper Devon Thomas when he had scored only 14 runs and the team total was 15. The opener fell to the third ball of the fourth over.

Nine balls later, Benn struck as he got rid of Kallis who was caught by Darren Sammy. The batsman had scored just four runs.

South Africa had slumped to 20/2 in five overs and looked to be in trouble. However, a 119 run partnership between Smith and de Villiers brought the Proteas back into the game. At this stage, Pollard got another breakthrough for West Indies when he clean bowled Smith.

The Proteas captain had made 45 runs off 78 balls with two hits to the fence.

AB de Viliers and Jean-Paul Duminy frustrated the West Indian bowlers and did not allow any more breakthroughs. They put up an unbeaten 84- run partnership for the fourth wicket to clinch victory.

AB de Viliers was unbeaten on 107 runs off 105 balls. This was the fastest century by any South African in the World Cup. Duminy made an unbeaten 42 runs off 53 balls.

To add salt to the West Indian wounds, the former champions suffered another blow when Dwayne Bravo was taken off the field when he twisted his knee while bowling. His availability for the next match will only be confirmed after an MRI scan tomorrow.

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