West Indies edges South Africa in tense encounter

West Indies edged South Africa in a three-wicket thriller as it chased the Proteas' paltry target of 123 with two balls remaining. Denesh Ramdin scored the winning runs while Marlon Samuels top-scored with a run-a-ball 44.

Hashim Amla run out for one in the very first over of South Africa's innings.   -  K. R. Deepak

At the end of the 16th over into the West Indies chase of a moderate target of a slow track at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, the on-field umpires called the groundstaff in to clear some of the dew with long ropes. While the groundstaff was trying to clear the dew, the South African players got into a quick huddle.

> Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details

With 24 runs to defend in as many deliveries in what was virtually a must-win affair for his team, the Proteas had every reason to give one last charge against a fancied Caribbean unit. Thanks to leggie Imran Tahir’s twin strikes in the following over and an outstanding over by David Wiese, South Africa clawed its way back into the game. However, Carlos Brathwaite’s big hit over the cow corner in the last over ensured the West Indies didn’t mess up a moderate target of 123.

The facile win ensured a place in the semifinals for the Caribbean crusaders. South Africa, on the other hand, will hope for Sri Lanka to overcome England to keep the Proteas’ campaign alive going into the last league match.

Match highlights

South Africa had to overcome the demons of the Nagpur pitch to put on a sizeable total. But Hashim Amla’s unnecessary run out in the opening over pegged them back and even before the halfway stage, they had lost half the side for 47 on the board. The West Indies medium pacers used cutters effectively, while the specialist spinners, Samuel Badree and Sulieman Benn, continued to impress on wickets that were suitable for them.

To add to that, Chris Gayle, rolling his arm over for the first time, was equally effective. It resulted in Quinton de Kock and David Wiese having left to rebuild the innings in the middle overs. Just as the duo seemed to be getting into the groove, de Kock played an inexplicable scoop off Andre Russell, missed it to see the stumps blinking. That meant South Africa’s hopes of setting a target of 140 were up in the air. Instead, they had to settle for a total of 122 for eight.

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With only two specialist spinners in its ranks and Morris and Kagiso Rabada lacking variations, the West Indies had to bat sensibly to overhaul the target. Despite Rabada getting through Gayle’s defence in the opening over and Andre Fletcher being run out off a direct hit by Rossouw in the Powerplay, Johnson Charles and Marlon Samuels displayed risk-free batting in the middle overs.

However, Tahir and Wiese’s exploits left the West Indies needing 20 runs off two overs. The close finish ensured that a near-packed Jamtha stadium, the biggest turnout for a non-India match in World Twenty20, had their monies worth despite not seeing an AB special or a Gayle storm.

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