CANBERRA: Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis cracked centuries to lift South Africa to a massive 411 for four in the World Cup against Ireland on Tuesday, the second highest total in tournament history.
Amla hit 159 off 128 balls, the fastest to reach 20 one-day centuries off 108 innings, and du Plessis made 109 during a second wicket stand of 247 off 217 balls in the Pool B game.
Amla smashed 16 boundaries and four sixes, while his partner contributed 10 fours and a six in a scintillating display of attacking batting after AB de Villiers won the toss and elected to bat.
The Proteas surpassed their total of 408 for five in the previous match against the West Indies in Sydney last week, but fell short of the World Cup record of 413 for five by India against Bermuda in 2007.
Both batsmen were dismissed in the space of three overs as Du Plessis was bowled by Kevin O’ Brien and Amla holed out in the deep off spinner Andy McBrine.
Rilee Rossouw hit an unbeaten 61 off 30 balls and David Miller chipped in with 46 not out as South Africa hammered 131 runs in the last 10 overs to leave Ireland facing a tough chase.
Both teams have four points each, but South Africa have played three matches to Ireland’s two. India head the pool with a maximum six points from three games.
Until Amla and du Plessis joined hands, Ireland were on top at the start of the innings as seamer John Mooney, whose first two overs were maidens, had Quinton de Kock caught behind for one.
South Africa would have been in further trouble when Kevin O’Brien, who became Ireland’s most capped player with 87 one-day appearances, came on in the sixth over and nearly claimed a wicket with his first ball.
Amla, then on 10, flicked uppishly to short mid-wicket where Ed Joyce, normally a safe catcher, spilled the ball after getting both hands to it.
Ireland paid dearly for the lapse as seamer Max Sorensen conceded 24 runs in one over with Amla smashing him for two sixes and a four and du Plessis lofting him for six.
In the second powerplay, Amla took 26 runs off one Mooney over with a sequence of 2, 4, 4, 6, 4, 6, and an extra run coming off a no-ball.
Amla’s career-best century came in his 108th innings, with Indian batsman Virat Kohli being the next fastest to reach 20 tons in 133 innings.
De Villiers had reached the landmark in his 175th match, while batting record holder Sachin Tendulkar achieved it in his 197th match.
De Villiers, who hit an audacious 162 off 66 balls in the previous match against the West Indies, managed only 24 before being removed by McBrine.