Image courtesy of: Zimbio
South Africa captain AB de Villiers led by example as he struck a quickfire 85 to lead his side to a 159-run win over New Zealand in the third ODI in Wellington.
Not only did De Villiers hand his side a 2-1 lead in the five-match series, but he made history by becoming the fastest batsman to score 9,000 ODI runs.
De Villiers needed just 205 innings to reach the milestone, easily beating the previous record of 228 innings by former India captain Sourav Ganguly.
He was also the fastest in terms of balls needed to get there, needing just 9,005 deliveries. Australia’s Adam Gilchrist held the previous record with 9,328 balls.
Choosing to bat first, South Africa got off to a solid start largely thanks to Quinton de Kock before his opening partner Hashim Amla was dismissed by Tim Southee for seven runs.
De Kock and Faf Du Plessis steadied the innings with a 73-run partnership, during which De Kock surpassed his fifty, before Du Plessis was removed by Colin de Grandhomme for 36.
De Grandhomme struck again just three balls later as he sent De Kock packing for 68 off 70 balls, which included six boundaries and two sixes.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
JP Duminy, David Miller and Dwaine Pretorius fell at regular intervals, but De Villiers and Wayne Parnell gave the Proteas a final push with an 84-run stand, during which De Villiers sailed past his fifty.
De Villiers ended up making 85 off 80 balls, which included seven boundaries and a six, before he was caught by James Neesham off the bowling of Trent Boult.
Parnell, meanwhile, went on to make 35 before being run out by Mitchell Santner on the final ball of the innings.
But, thanks to their late partnership, South Africa finished on 271/8 off their 50 overs.
De Grandhomme was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets, while Southee, Boult, Santner and Lockie Ferguson chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 272 to win, New Zealand lost openers Tom Latham and Dean Brownlie early on.
Just as they were beginning to rebuild from the double blow, captain Kane Williamson was clean bowled by Andile Phehlukwayo for 23.
It was all downhill from that point for the hosts as they lost wickets in a hurry. Even though De Grandhomme tried his best to put up a fight, it was too little too late as New Zealand were skittled out for 112, while he remained undefeated on 34.
Pretorius was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Parnell, Phehlukwayo and Kagiso Rabada took two wickets apiece. Imran Tahir, meanwhile, claimed one wicket.
De Villiers was named Man of the Match.