For a while it seemed like the South Africa-West Indies game at Nagpur would go the India-Bangladesh way with the Windies struggling towards the end. Chasing 123, they crumbled to 113 for 7 in the penultimate over, when the well-set Marlon Samuels fell for a mature 43. West Indies went into the last over needing nine to win. Faf du Plessis gave the ball to the reliable Kagiso Rabada, but the second ball of the over was a length delivery, which Carlos Brathwaite launched over midwicket for a six. That shot ensured West Indies would progress safely to the semis, winning three out of three.
While South African bowlers could not finish off the job after getting rather close in the end, it was the batting that let the Proteas down, and has put them in a position from it will be very tough for them to progress to the semi-final. Quinton de Kock’s 47 was the only score of note for South Africa, and had it not been for David Wiese’s 28 towards the end, they would have found it difficult to cross even 120. Hashim Amla, skipper Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, Rilee Rossouw and David Miller all fell cheaply. You don’t win T20 matches like that.
Having not put up a decent score on the board, South Africa needed to claim early wickets to stay in the game. Rabada gave the Proteas the perfect start when he cleaned up Chris Gayle with a pitched up delivery that was too quick for left-hander in the first over of the chase. A mix-up saw Andre Fletcher get run-out, and kept the Proteas in the game. They hung in as Johnson Charles departed for 32. Having done the hard work, he slogged one straight up in the air. Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy also had a poor day as West Indies succumbed to 100 for 6.
Even as wickets kept falling though, Samuels remained constant on one end, and almost took West Indies over the line. He hit six fours in his patient knock, which ensured his team had the edge. Samuels got his first four by flicking a loose delivery towards leg. He later carved Rabada through point, and upper cut him for consecutive fours. Chris Morris was flat-batted down the ground. The pressure grew as West Indies needed 20 off 12 balls. Samuels slapped a bumper from Morris through vacant third man, but fell going for another big shot. In hindsight, he had done enough.
South Africa would rue the fact that their batting as a whole came apart. Even as de Kock was fluent out in the middle, he was involved in the run out of Amla in the first over as the duo went for a quick single. Du Plessis drove Andre Russell straight to mid-off, Rossouw cut Gayle to point for a duck, and de Villiers’ attempted flick through midwicket was edged back on to the stumps. South Africa lost half their side for under 50 when Miller missed a straight ball from Gayle, and had his furniture disturbed. Even as their bowlers tried their heart out, there was no comeback for South Africa from that point.
--By A Cricket Correspondent