South Africa, not finding themselves among the potential semi-finalists of most cricket experts, began their World Cup campaign with a war cry, announcing their intention by creating a slew of records at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground of the Arun Jaitley Stadium against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
The Proteas powered to 428/5 in their 50 overs, which surpassed 417/7 by Australia against Afghanistan in 2015, as the highest team total in World Cup history. The total was enough to bury the hopes of Sri Lankans, who tried hard with the bat but ended up losing their World Cup opener by 102 runs.
As expected from the ticket sales, the match was not as well attended as befits a World Cup game, but the less-than-half capacity crowd that fizzled out later at night, was witness to a blitzkrieg from the Proteas who hammered 59 boundaries, the most in a World Cup innings.
Quinton de Kock (100 off 84 balls, 12x4s, 3x6s) and Rassie van der Dussen (108 off 110 balls, 13x4s, 2x6s) added 204 for the second wicket in exactly 29 overs, milking an attack that lacked a few frontline bowlers due to injury.
Van der Dussen survived a couple of chances.
With the platform set, it was the turn of the No. 4 Aiden Markram to switch on and he hit 14 fours and three sixes to score the fastest century in a World Cup, bettering the 50-ball century by Kevin O’Brien, who made it against England in Bengaluru in 2011.
The 29-year-old right-handed batsman from Pretoria was particularly harsh on Matheesha Pathirana in the 43rd as he took 18 runs out of the 26 runs the bowler conceded in that over.
Heinrich Klaasen (32 off 20 balls) and David Miller (39 not out off 21 balls) also chipped in with quick runs.
This was the third time South Africa had breached the 400-run target.
If the target looked insurmountable, Sri Lanka No. 3 Kusal Mendis never made it look like it while he was there. He came in at the start of the second over but reached his fifty, and team’s, in 5.5 overs. The six through the flick shot took him to 51 and the team to 54, with his partner and opener Kusal Perera not even off the mark.
Two overs, the fifth bowled by Lungi Ngidi which went for 18, and the sixth bowled by Marco Jansen which went for 17, gave Sri Lanka the fillip.
But his onslaught was too good to last long and he fell chasing one outside the off-stump to be out caught behind. He had taken Sri Lanka to 109 when he fell as the third wicket in the 13th over.
Charith Asalanka, surviving at least a couple of times, made 79 off 65 balls (8x4s, 4x6s) and skipper Dasun Shanaka scored 68 off 62 balls (6x4s, 3x6s)
The match also witnessed 105 boundaries – 74 fours and 31 sixes – the highest in a World Cup match surpassing the previous record of 93 boundaries – 62 fours and 31 sixes – during the New Zealand vs West Indies match.
It fell short of the ODI world record of 110 boundaries by just five boundaries.