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South Africa storm into the series lead after Shamsi, Nortje clinch nailbiter

South Africa 167 for 8 (de Kock 72, McCoy 4-22, Bravo 3-25) beat West Indies 166 for 7 (Pooran 27, Lewis 27, Shamsi 2-13, Nortje 2-29) by 1 run

We asked for a nail-biter and we got it. South Africa protect 19 runs off the last two overs; Kagiso Rabada made eight off the last two balls as South Africa took a 2-1 lead in the five-match series. For the third match in succession, Kieron Pollard put down South Africa into bat, and like in the previous game, West Indies followed in a chase of 160 plus; they have only success to chase this score twice in their last 11 games.

While South Africa may not be entirely satisfied with all elements of their batting, especially their middle order, their attack held them get out of jail. Tabraiz Shamsi turned in the most reasonable Environment effort of his career so far (2 for 13 in four overs) while Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi gave 52 runs in seven overs between them and worked their variations well after West Indies seemed to be on course at 96 for 3 at the halfway mark of their 168 targets.

Earlier in the afternoon, Quinton de Kock proved to be their rival again in top-scoring with 72, before Obed McCoy and Dwayne Bravo made seven wickets between them. McCoy ended with a career-best 4 for 22, which didn’t prove to be enough.

50 in his 50th

The effects of de Kock captaincy have been in danger on this tour. He played well in this tournament. He made up his career-best 141* in the first Test with 96 in the second, two scores over 25 in the first two T20Is, and then a seventh T20I half-century here in his 50th T20I appearance.

He appeared aggressive mood in the third over when he took 15 runs off Andre Russell’s opening over, courtesy of two fours and a six. He again attacked on  Aiden Markram after Obed McCoy’s double strike in the fifth over and attacked Fabian Allen’s left-arm spin, something South Africa had been unwilling to do in the previous two matches.

He both shared together a 60-run stand for the fourth-wicket with Rassie van der Dussen, the best of South Africa’s innings. It appeared as if he’d bat through but moved outside off-stump to try and pull Dwayne Bravo over square leg but handed Lendl Simmons an easy catch in the 18th over.

Apart from a beamer down the leg-side that cost five runs, he made an imprssion. He struck in the fifth over when Reeza Hendricks dragged a short ball straight to a running Allen at deep backward square, and then deceived South Africa captain Temba Bavuma with a back of the hand slower ball in the sixth over.

Looking to go over the top, Bavuma sliced this with Shimron Hetmeyer running across from mid-off to take the catch. South Africa finished the Powerplay on 51 for 2, their lowest in the series so far. McCoy got a third, but for Jason Holder shelling a running catch at long-on off de Kock. McCoy made up for in the penultimate over when he bowled George Linde with a slower ball and had Rassie van der Dussen caught at short third, trying to thwack it over long-on. McCoy’s pace of the ball left South African about 15 runs adrift of what Bavuma thought should be a par score.

5 for 17 plays 3 for 14

South Africa lost their momentum in the last three overs of innings when they lost 5 wickets for 17 runs. That was the variation between a score under 170 and one closer to 200 and remains a cause for concern, especially sans a seam-bowling allrounder. But West Indies also have their problems in the middle order player. They promoted Holder to No. 3 for the first time in his career and while he took on Linde and Markram, he miscued a Ngidi slower ball to end the experiment.

Hetmeyer, playing for the first time in the series, also targeted Linde and Markram but couldn’t get Shamsi past Rabada at the point. And Kieron Pollard not successful for the second successive time in the series when he yorked himself by charging Rabada and missing a flick to leave the lower-order to do the rest.

Final flourish, and squeeze.

West Indies required 44 runs off the last four overs, and Andre Russell transferred pressure onto the South African attack with back-to-back sixes off Nortje before mis-hitting an attempted third maximum and being dropped by a back-pedaling Bavuma at extra cover. He made 2 runs in the rest of that over and the wicket of Russell to put the ball back in the batting team’s court.

Nicholas Pooran, who has have not inform in this series so far, smashed Ngidi over midwicket for six off the second ball of the 18th over but with only three more runs off made the rest of three balls, West Indies still had work to do. It was Nortje who put South Africa in the pound seats with an over that cost just four runs and took the wicket of Pooran, who missed a paddle and was out lbw, and left Rabada with 15 to defend in the last over.

Subhash Sharma
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