Young blood flourish

For South Africa, Wayne Parnell took four for 13 from his four overs and displayed all the ingredients necessary for a long international career in any form of the game. For West Indies, Lendl Simmons excelled, cracking a dashing 77 from 50 balls and ensuring that the South Africans had to work hard for their win. By Vic Marks.

South Africa retained their unbeaten status and just about guaranteed themselves a place in the semifinals with a 20-run victory over the West Indies at the Oval. Moreover in a tournament so far dominated by old lags familiar to us all, some fresh names came to the fore.

For South Africa, Wayne Parnell, 19, took four for 13 from his four overs and displayed all the ingredients necessary for a long international career in any form of the game. For West Indies, Lendl Simmons excelled, cracking a dashing 77 from 50 balls and ensuring that the South Africans had to work hard for their win. This was a worthy effort by West Indies against the most impressive team in the competition so far. Just 17 hours earlier, Chris Gayle's men had left the field at Lord's after their thrilling, adrenaline-charged victory over India. It took some effort to be up for another match so soon. Yet, there were few signs of weary bodies or minds - even though Gayle was hobbling.

About 17 days ago, West Indies seemed to have no interest whatever in their journey around England, but taking their lead from their skipper, whose affection for this form of the game is now well documented, they have given much to this tournament already, with wins against Australia and India.

It was almost a textbook victory for the South Africans. Jacques Kallis dispelled the notion that the best tactic is to keep him in by hitting 45 from 31 balls, including one exquisite offdriven six. Nor did Graeme Smith or Herschelle Gibbs hang around. Perhaps the innings petered out a little towards the end. In the last five overs they gleaned 45 for the loss of five wickets: not bad, but not perfect. West Indies never faltered in the field. A total of 183 was a formidable target, but not an impregnable one.

After two overs from parnell it was ever more challenging. Parnell hails from Port Elizabeth and has been earmarked for international cricket for some time. He played in two Under-19 World Cups, captaining the South African side to the final in Malaysia last year. His brisk leftarm seamers and his ability to hold a bat draw obvious parallels with Mitchell Johnson. He has pace, but he also has composure. He is preferred to Morne Morkel in this side.

He disposed of Andre Fletcher, who swung and missed. Then, rather more significantly, Gayle clipped a full-length delivery into the hands of midwicket. In between those scalps Parnell allowed no liberties. Late on, with Caribbean hopes of victory disappearing over the horizon, he returned to dispose of Kieron Pollard and Jerome Taylor. Parnell has yet to play a Test match, but he will before long.

However, South Africa do have a couple of one-day specialists serving them well, Johan Botha and Roelof van der Merwe, both of whom are unlikely to play much Test cricket. It has not escaped their notice that spinners are critical for Twenty20 success. Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis have enchanted for Sri Lanka; Harbhajan Singh is vital to India, so are Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi for Pakistan.

It is hard to view Botha and Van der Merwe in the same light, but they have been important to South Africa's success so far. Botha propels darts, straight and to a full length, not particularly effective, but this is a rarity. Van der Merwe, a left-arm spinner, does not dally with flight either. He slings the ball down with a low trajectory, but he knows where he is slinging them.

Van der merwe took the vital wicket in this match, that of Simmons. The nephew of big Phil, currently coaching Ireland, contributed much to West Indies' win against India with a stupendous catch and 44 runs. But he did not really bat fluently at Lord's. He hit a stream of breathtaking strokes of remarkable power through the covers, over midwicket and down the ground. But he could not quite find enough elevation against another skidding delivery from Van der Merwe and was caught at long-off.

Thereafter, victory was assured for a South African side who, under Smith's leadership, look much more relaxed in a major tournament than so many of their predecessors.

THE SCORES

South Africa v West Indies. Result: South Africa won by 20 runs.

South Africa: J. Kallis c Pollard b Simmons 45; G. Smith c Fletcher b Benn 31; H. Gibbs c Taylor b Pollard 55; A. B. de Villiers c Gayle b Taylor 17; A. Morkel b Taylor 10; M. Boucher (not out) 17; J. Duminy c Sarwan b Edwards 0; R. van der Merwe c Ramdin b Taylor 1; J. Botha (not out) 4; Extras (lb-1, w-2) 3. Total (for seven wkts., in 20 overs) 183.

Fall of wickets: 1-54, 2-105, 3-136, 4-155, 5-159, 6-163, 7-166.

West Indies bowling: Taylor 4-0-30-3; Edwards 4-0-34-1; Bravo 2-0-24-0; Benn 4-0-36-1; Pollard 3-0-29-1; Gayle 1-0-7-0; Simmons 2-0-22-1.

West Indies: C. Gayle c Botha b Parnell 5; A. Fletcher b Parnell 0; L. Simmons c de Villiers b van der Merwe 77; D. Bravo c Steyn b van der Merwe 19; S. Chanderpaul c & b Duminy 8; R. Sarwan c Botha b Steyn 8; K. Pollard c Smith b Parnell 6; D. Ramdin b Steyn 8; J. Taylor b Parnell 0; S. Benn (not out) 13; F. Edwards (not out) 2; Extras (b-1, lb-9, w-6, nb-1) 17. Total (for nine wkts., in 20 overs) 163.

Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-13, 3-70, 4-91, 5-133, 6-133, 7-142, 8-143, 9-159.

South Africa bowling: Steyn 4-0-30-2; Parnell 4-0-13-4; Kallis 2-0-23-0; Morkel 2-0-21-0; Botha 2-0-20-0; Van der Merwe 4-0-30-2; Duminy 2-0-16-1.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2009