Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen guided South Africa to an emphatic eight-wicket win with 10 balls to spare against the West Indies having restricted their opposition to a disappointing total of 143-8 in their T20 World Cup match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.
Markram struck four leg-side sixes and two fours in his aggressive, unbeaten 51 from just 26 balls while Van der Dussen played a more measured innings of 43 not out from 51 balls with just three fours as he controlled a modest run chase.
Reeza Hendricks gave the innings an early boost with an easy-on-the-eye 39 from only 30 balls with four fours and a six after being called into the starting XI at the 11th hour when Quinton de Kock made himself unavailable for selection after refusing to conform to a CSA directive for the players to ‘take a knee’ before the start of play.
The West Indies appeared set for a total of around 170 when they reached 87-1 at the start of the 12th over but a spectacular collapse followed after opener Evin Lewis smashed 56 from only 35 balls.
The West Indies started slowly with Markram bowling two overs of off-spin at a cost of just four runs before exploding into action in the fifth over of the innings when left-hander Lewis smashed Markram for 18 runs including two sixes.
Lewis was in glorious form with three fours and half a dozen sixes in a brutal innings of 56 from only 35 balls but his first mistake resulted in his downfall with Kagiso Rabada catching a miscued slog-sweep at deep midwicket off the bowling of Keshav Maharaj.
Nicholas Pooran (12 off 7 balls) was promoted to No 3 to atone for the laborious lack of ambition from Lendl Simmons and lashed two quick boundaries before slapping Maharaj to David Miller at long-off.
Opener Simmons played one of the worst innings by an opening batter in T20I history when he gave up 18 dot balls and did not hit a single boundary in a bizarrely subdued innings of 16 from 35 balls. Kagiso Rabada ended his misery with a slower ball which crashed into leg stump.
‘HE GOT STUCK’
“Obviously it’s just a matter of not scoring enough runs. Our batters haven’t scored enough, haven’t come to the party in terms of what we know we can do,” an understandably downcast West Indies skipper, Kieron Pollard said after the match.
Pollard was asked about the extraordinary innings played by opener Simmons:
“There things happen. Yes, he got stuck. You know, after six overs, he was there and we wanted to bat a couple more without losing wickets. But, having said that, I’m not going to sit here and pinpoint anybody, you’re not going to get me throwing my teammates under the bus. He was outside trying to do a job for us.. I thought it was a total disappointing batting effort in terms of not getting 160 plus,” Pollard said.
Chris Gayle (12 off 12 balls) thumped one defiant six but also struggled to get going on a decent batting pitch offering some turn to the spinners and soon perished to a catch by stand-in ‘keeper Heinrich Klaasen off the bowling of Dwaine Pretorius.
Pollard did his best to keep the innings on track with 26 from 20 balls (2×4, 1×6) but Van der Dussen held a low catch behind bowler Pretorius to end his innings and give Pretorius figures of 3-17 in just two overs.
Maharaj was once again in outstanding form claiming 2-24 in his four overs which included clever changes of both pace and line but Anrich Nortje was the pick of the bowlers conceding a mere 14 runs from his four overs.
Nortje’s first three overs cost a miserly nine runs before he produced a magnificent yorker to bowl Andre Russell for five in his final over.
“Playing in the IPL helped me quite a lot, hundred per cent. Having the confidence of knowing the conditions and understanding what to do, and when to do it, definitely has helped me coming here.” the fast bowler noted.
‘IT’S ALWAYS NICE WORKING WITH KG’
“It was a good wicket, actually. I was playing around with the ball and with the grip, bringing some extra variations, so it’s nice knowing what to do, when to do it. It’s always nice working with KG (Kagiso Rabada). His ideas, his knowledge about the game and the situation. It’s not just about skill, it’s about the understanding and the communication on the field. That’s important and it’s really nice to have him around,” Nortje said.
“We were much better than our first game. We knew there were areas that we had to improve on, notably our batting while the bowling was again outstanding,” South Africa’s captain, Temba Bavuma said.
He also praised the input from South Africa’s IPL players, especially fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Nortje.
“The conversations we have out there are short and clear, they know exactly what to do. The information that they pass on to other bowlers is invaluable. We haven’t been too sure how the wickets are going to react so (that’s why Aiden Markram opened the bowling) and he obviously bowled quite well.
“But that was the type of performance that we’re looking for with the bat. The bowling has been carrying us if I could say…. Aiden is hitting the ball wonderfully at the moment. He’s been doing it in the nets so it’s wonderful to see him do it out there,” Bavuma said.
Bavuma admitted that Quinton de Kock’s decision not to take a knee before the match thus ruling himself out of contention for the starting XI had been both a shock and an added reason to play hard for the win.
“It was probably a bit of both, to be honest. When the news hit us it did kind of take us back a bit as a team. Losing a guy like Quinny, he obviously plays an integral role within the team not just with the bat but as a senior player.
“But with that, Klaasen coming in you know, there was an opportunity for him. And at the end of the day, it was it was another game of cricket for us to play for our country. And we had to make sure that we live up to that,” Bavuma said.
Both teams desperately needed to bounce back from highly contrasting opening defeats. The Proteas lost to Australia by five wickets with just two balls remaining defending a modest 118 while the West Indies were bowled out for a humiliating 55 to lose to England by six wickets with 11.4 overs to spare.
SOUTH AFRICA: Temba Bavuma (capt), Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi
WEST INDIES: Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Kieron Pollard (capt), Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Akeal Hosein, Hayden Walsh, Ravi Rampaul. © MWP