Disciplined South Africa revive World Cup campaign

South Africa set aside the noise of off-field controversy to complete a controlled win and bring their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 campaign back on track.

After their pace bowlers restricted the West Indies at the death, South Africa’s top order were clinical in chasing down a target of 144 with eight wickets and 10 balls in hand. Rassie van der Dussen held firm while Reeza Hendricks and half-centurion Aiden Markram took the bowlers on, with the two fifty-plus stands steering the chase in Dubai.

While West Indies put their batting woes from the first game to rest, they still lost five wickets in the last three overs. Failing to capitalise on a quick-fire fifty by Evin Lewis, the defending champions only posted 143/8 and slipped to their second loss in a row.

South Africa will look back to the two overs bowled by Dwaine Pretorius at the death, in which he picked up 3/17, and Anrich Nortje’s 1/14 as crucial in setting up the victory.

South Africa recover after run-out

South Africa’s chase got off to a rocky start when their captain was run out in the first over going for a quick single. Andre Russell at mid-off was quick with his pick-up and throw at the non-striker’s end.

Hendricks, though, ensured the chase wasn’t derailed. Coming in as a replacement for Quinton de Kock, who controversially opted out of the match for “personal reasons”, he took on the bad balls and kept the scoreboard ticking without ever trying anything risky.

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Even when South Africa went almost three overs without a boundary, the pressure remained on the West Indies to get a breakthrough. They were forced to bring in Dwayne Bravo in the eighth over, but it was Akeal Hosein, bowling his fourth over inside the first 10, who finally struck.

Shimron Hetmyer dived forward and the third umpire confirmed that he took a clean low catch at deep square to send back Hendricks for a well-made 39 off 30 balls.

Markram tees off

Aiden Markram carried on in the same manner, targetting the final balls of the overs for boundaries to keep the required rate in control. He took leg-side sixes off both Hayden Walsh and Kieron Pollard. When Bravo squeezed in a two-run over, he went on to ease the pressure with another shot into the stands. With less than a run a ball needed, Markram just had time to bring up his half-century off just 25 balls, and fittingly struck the winning runs.

T20 World Cup: Lewis races to fifty after slow start

West Indies overcame a slow start after being put in to bat to race to 65/0 at the halfway mark in their Group 1 match against South Africa. Evin Lewis dominated the scoring, reaching his fifty in just 32 balls.

Lewis punishes the bowlers

Aiden Markram was handed the new ball for his part-time off-spin, and enjoyed two good overs. Bavuma’s punt of using him against the left-handed Lewis seemed to be working, as his second over was a maiden. However, Lewis freed his arms in the fourth over under fielding restrictions, and punished both spin and pace.

When Kagiso Rabada went wide, Lewis sent it racing past backward point for a four. When the bowler was full, Lewis’ reply went soaring over his head. When Markram was short, Lewis pulled him into the stands over midwicket; when the bowler overcompensated by going full, the ball was sent sailing over long-on.

Reaching 43/0 in the Powerplay, West Indies had more than made up for their slow start, with Lewis doing the bulk of the scoring.

Half-century for Lewis 

Anrich Nortje had a chance to send Lendl Simmons back, but the quick delivery was dropped by wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen. But even as Simmons struggled, Lewis quickly moved to his fifty with his fifth six of the afternoon, going down on his knee to slog sweep Tabraiz Shamsi.

De Kock opts out as South Africa choose to bowl

South Africa won the toss and put West Indies in to bat in their Group 1 Super 12 match at the Dubai International Stadium. The pitch was hard and described by the experts as a good cricketing surface. Unsure about what a good total would be on this surface, the Proteas have chosen to chase.

West Indies were rolled over for 55 in their opener against West Indies, which hit their net run rate hard. They’ll be keen not to have that figure affected further.

Desperate to catch up in their respective campaigns, both teams will be looking for improvements on the batting side of the equation, curtailed by opposition bowling in their first-match efforts.

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Restricted to 118/9 in their 20 overs against Australia, South Africa’s performance was somewhat helped by a confident effort in the field, taking the match to its final over in a five-wicket defeat.

While Temba Bavuma’s men cushioned a potentially crippling net run rate blow, the same cannot be said for Kieron Pollard’s West Indies,  who were crushed by England in just 8.2 overs in the chase after posting a meagre target of 56. Having seemingly recovered from losing two early wickets, a collapse of 28/8 pushed West Indies out of the game, unable to hit back against an English attack firing on all cylinders.

With not enough on the board to defend, Pollard almost used the England innings to allow Akeal Hosein to find a rhythm at the bowling crease. A late inclusion to the squad after injury forced Fabian Allen out of the tournament, Hosein found his groove, taking two excellent catches off his own bowling to finish with figures of 2/24 (4).

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Hosein’s performance was the sole positive from the West Indies’ effort, though vibes in the group look positive, shaking the result off as an aberration. Looking back at tournament history, West Indies fell to Afghanistan at the end of the Super 10 phase during their 2016 campaign, before victories against India and England to claim their second title in the event.

Between the two combatants in this upcoming fixture, however, it is South Africa with the edge. The teams faced off in a five-match T20I series earlier in the year in Grenada, with the tourists claiming a see-sawing series 3-2. A one-run victory in the third match proved the difference, with South Africa winning all of their matches batting first.

The series was the first for Bavuma as skipper, passing his first test on the back of smart bowling, and the work of Quinton de Kock with the bat. Posting at least 160 in all four of the matches in the series batting first, de Kock’s 255 series runs (at 51.00, strike rate 141.66) was complemented by contributions around him, most notably Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen.

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On the West Indian side, the series was used to experiment with the batting line-up, though questions of frailties against spin bowling went largely unanswered, as Tabraiz Shamsi caused havoc. Claiming seven wickets across the five matches at an economy of four, Pollard’s men may need a different plan of attack against the wrist-spinner.

Playing XI

South Africa captain Temba Bavuma said Quinton de Kock opted out of the match for personal reasons, with Reeza Hendricks coming in.

Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma (c), Aiden Markram, David Miller, Rassie van der Dussen, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi

There is one forced change for West Indies, with Hayden Walsh Jr, the leg-spinner, coming in for Obed McCoy.

Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Kieron Pollard (c), Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Hayden Walsh Jr, Akeal Hossein, Ravi Rampaul

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