Kieron Pollard’s West Indies came roaring back to restrict South Africa to 167 for 6 in Sunday’s second T20I at the Grenada National Stadium. It was a few runs more than the target to which they cruised for the loss of only two wickets and with five overs to spare in Saturday’s first T20I.
But in the second innings, Temba Bavuma’s men, brilliant in the field, were in different, defiant mood and put the shackles on the WI to claim a well-deserved 16-run victory.
At the halfway stage, the script looked remarkably similar to what had happened on Saturday. The Proteas were put in to bat and threatened to blow the opposition away but they eventually imploded. And after that, a different WI turned up, with a whimper instead of Saturday’s six-hitting bang.
WI were just 88 for five after 13 overs and ended up on 150 for 9, 17 runs short of their target.
Man-of-the-Match George Linde, blasted out of the attack after only two overs by the marauding WI batsmen on Saturday, returned figures of 2/19 off his four overs. And his fellow left-armer, wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, conceded only 16 runs off his four, claiming the vital wicket of the WI captain.
Spin, that meant, not generally regarded as the strength of Bavuma’s team, had allowed only 35 runs and claimed three scalps. And the last of the eight overs of spin was number 14 when 79 runs were still needed for the win.
With the deficit reduced to 36 off the last over, Bavuma called up Lungi Ngidi instead of Kagiso Rabada, who had conceded 18 in over number 18. All-rounder Fabian Allen briefly conjured memories of the 2016 T20 World Cup final. He clouted the first two balls over the boundary to make the equation 24 needed off four.
But although he would clear the boundary again before the end of the over, an edge straight to the fine-leg fieldsman off the third ball meant that there would be no miracle win for the WI.
From the start, it looked like the Proteas meant business. Openers Quinton de Kock and Reeza Hendricks once more started like a runaway train. And it required no fewer than four bowling changes from Pollard—and a bit of luck—to stop them in their tracks.
De Kock attempted to ramp a delivery from Kevin Sinclair down to fine-leg but only succeeded in getting the underside of his glove to it. An alert Nicholas Pooran ran to his right and, sticking out his right hand, reeled in the chance, identified as such by the fourth umpire.
From 73 for 1 at that stage, over number seven, South Africa would get to 95 without further loss after ten overs. Sinclair (2/23) and left-armer Allen (0/35) completed their quota of eight overs for a total of 58 runs. Bavuma (46 off 33 balls) and David Miller, unsurprisingly promoted to number 4, added 26 together but, at 122 for 3, Miller once more lost his wicket trying to force the pace.
After that, the innings went into decline, just 44 runs coming off the last seven overs.
It is unclear just what skipper Bavuma had discussed with his bowlers overnight. But, like on Saturday, Andre Fletcher and Evin Lewis were off to a fast start. And Bavuma again called on four different bowlers for the first four overs.
Lewis had got to 25 off 16 balls when Anrich Nortje finally induced an error from him and shattered his stumps. Fletcher, struggling mightily against Shamsi, would stick around to accumulate 35 off 36. At 104 for 6, he eventually became the third of the top-order batsmen to swing for the hills but only contrive to reach the hands of a fieldsman inside the boundary ropes.
It was unclear what skipper Pollard had discussed with his batsmen; it was clear it was not occupation of the crease. At the other end from Fletcher, Chris Gayle (8), Pooran (9), Pollard (1) and Andre Russell (5) came and went, the last three all trying in vain to clear the boundary.
After Jason Holder (20) was run out trying to steal a tight second run, Dwayne Bravo (10) joined the caught-on-the-boundary club.
That left Allen obliged to try to damblay the Carlos Brathwaite 2016 heroics.
West Indies fans will be hoping that Saturday’s WI will turn up and there will be no need for a repeat when the third match takes place at the same venue on Tuesday.
Toss: West Indies
S/Africa: 167 for 6 (T Bavuma 46, B Hendricks 42, Q de Kock 26, O McCoy 3/25, K St Clair 2/23)
West Indies: 150 for 9 (A Fletcher 35, F Allen 34, K Rabada 3/37, G Linde 2/19)
Man-of-the-Match: George Linde
Result: South Africa won by 16 runs