RICHARD Levi hit the fastest Twenty20 international century as South Africa beat New Zealand by eight wickets in Hamilton. Levi took just 45 balls to reach three figures, crashing a record 13 sixes along the way, to level the three-match series.
It was stunning stuff from the 24-year-old opener, in just his second international match, finishing unbeaten on 117 from 67 balls, equalling West Indian Chris Gayle’s record international score, made in 2007.
It was an innings to dwarf New Zealand’s 173 for four, built on Martin Guptill’s 47, as South Africa got home with four overs remaining. New Zealand looked to wrap up the series after their opening-match win and made quick progress early thanks to Guptill. The tall opener hit 47 from 35 balls to help the Kiwis to 97 for two when he departed, after he top-edged Marchant de Lange to Albie Morkel.
Brendon McCullum added 35 off 31 balls while James Franklin accelerated the rate further with 28 off ten balls.
But his hitting was nothing in comparison to Levi who announced himself on the international stage in some style. He lost Hashim Amla and Wayne Parnell in the first five overs, leaving the Proteas in some trouble at 41 for two, but he unleashed some brutal shots to power his side to victory.
Doug Bracewell was on the receiving end of most of the carnage, conceding 37 from two overs, as Levi got his first 50, with his only single to the offside at that point, off 25 balls. The fireworks then began in earnest as he took 20 more balls to reach his ton and become the sixth man to score an international Twenty20 hundred.
“It was good fun. Every shot I played seemed to come off,” Levi said afterwards.