Wankhede reminded me of Wanderers: de Villiers

The Wankhede Stadium pitch, now in the news after curator Sudhir Naik’s written complaint to the Mumbai Cricket Association, pointing out the abuse by the Indian team management over the flatness of the track, has earned praise from AB de Villiers, the South Africa captain.

The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

The Wankhede Stadium pitch, now in the news after curator Sudhir Naik’s written complaint to the Mumbai Cricket Association, pointing out the abuse by the Indian team management over the flatness of the track, has earned praise from AB de Villiers, the South Africa captain.

He felt the pitch reminded him of the Wanderers Stadium track in Johannesburg. “It (Wankhede) has always been a good wicket. Reminds me a lot of Wanderers and it was a good contest between bat and ball,” he said after the fifth ODI. With India fielding three spinners, de Villiers expected turn.

“I thought it was going to spin a bit more. It was a good cricket wicket, played very similar in both innings and it (ball) came on nicely in the evening. I wasn’t surprised (by the flatness) as I had played in Mumbai earlier.” South Africa set a Wankhede record for the highest team total, 438 for four, inclusive of 20 sixes and 38 fours.

The Wanderers Stadium was the stage for him to create cricket history in January 2015 during an ODI against the West Indies. De Villiers recorded the fastest ODI half-century, the fastest century and equalled the record for most sixes in a one-day international.

South Africa scored 439 for two in 50 overs on the back of three tons by de Villiers (114), Hashim Amla (153 not out) and Rilee Rossouw (128). De Villiers recorded the fastest ODI half century (16 balls), fastest century (31 balls) and equalled Rohit Sharma’s record of 16 sixes in an innings.

Walking out for the toss at Wankhede, the SA captain called right and opted to bat. Amla took a liking for the track, stroking five boundaries for 23 off 13 balls. Rossouw watched from the stands as his captain settled down to play a breathtaking knock at the Wanderers, oops, Wankhede!

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