CAPE TOWN –– Chris Gayle blasted 77 from 31 deliveries as West Indies beat South Africa by four wickets in the first Twenty20 International of the series in Cape Town today.
Gayle’s score was the fastest fifty (taking 17 balls) by a West Indian in T20 cricket as the visitors chased down the Proteas target of 166.
Rilee Rossouw had earlier top-scored for South Africa with 51 not out from 40 balls, having been dropped on 30 by Sheldon Cotterrell in a poor showing from the visitors in the field.
But with a full-strength West Indies side facing a South African outfit without the rested AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, a respectable score of 165 for 4 wasn’t to be enough.
Starting with one run from his first six deliveries, Gayle pummelled his next 11 for a boundary a ball –– with the exception of one which went for two –– to bring up his fifty.
The next ball South Africa got a breakthrough, Imran Tahir (3 for 28) getting Dwayne Smith (20) lbw attempting a reverse-sweep in his first over.
So it made Gayle’s decision to play the same shot to the same bowler in his third over – having dispatched him for two more straight sixes earlier in the over –– all the more baffling.
Tahir also picked up Samuels for 41 as the West Indies somewhat stuttered over the finish line, losing four wickets for 17 before Kieron Pollard hit the winning runs with four balls to spare.
After dominating the Test series between the two, South Africa rested their stars with five ODIs following these three T20s –– and a World Cup round the corner –– fielding an inexperienced XI.
West Indies’ attack proved better suited to the conditions, with their battery of medium-pace all-rounders concentrating on bowling cutters and slower balls, asking the batsmen to force the pace. Rossouw and David Miller fashioned South Africa’s highest stand, 48 runs for the fourth wicket, but it only featured three fours.
On his first international appearance in three years, Morne van Wyk swatted one pull for six and cracked another couple of fours square of the wicket but boundaries were otherwise hard to come by during the Powerplay.
Reeza Hendricks managed to divert a bottom edge over Denesh Ramdin but fell next ball, as Cottrell got his inswinging yorker on target.
Jason Holder bowled an immaculate line first up, removing van Wyk with a ball that was too full to cut, and he had figures of 3-0-7-1 when Faf du Plessis collared him in the eighth over to get South Africa motoring.
Du Plessis, the senior batsman in the line-up, briefly rampaged around Newlands, hitting five fours and two sixes in the space of ten deliveries. He should have been dismissed on 28, when Holder’s lame attempted catch only resulted in six at long-off, but the bowler, Andre Russell, had his revenge with a filthy full toss two balls later, du Plessis spooning to the edge of the ring off a leading edge.
The calm had been disturbed but the real violence was still to come in the form of a Gayle storm.
R Hendricks LBW Cotterrell 12
M van Wyk+ c Gayle b Holder 17
F du Plessis* c Sammy b Russell 38
R Rossouw not out 51
D Miller c Bravo b Cottrell 24
F Behardien not out 18
Total: 165/4 (20 Overs)
Extras: (lb 2, w 3) 5
Did not Bat: D Wiese, W Parnell, K Abbott, K Rabada, Imran Tahir.
Fall of Wickets: 1-30 (Hendricks, 4.2 ov), 2-33 (van Wyk, 5.1 ov), 3-79 (du Plessis, 9.5 ov), 4-127 (Miller, 16.2 ov).
West Indies Bowling: S Cottrell 4-0-33-2, J Holder 4-0-20-1, A Russell 4-0-43-1, A Nurse 3-0-24-0, D Bravo 3-0-26-0, D Sammy 2-0-17-0.
West Indies (Target; 166)
C Gayle c van Wyk b Tahir 77
D Smith LBW Tahir 20
M Samuels c Rossouw b Tahir 41
D Bravo c Hendricks b Parnell 8
K Pollard not out 8
A Russell c Abbott b Parnell 6
D Ramdin+ Abbott b Wiese 2
D Sammy not out 0
Total: 168/6 (20 Overs)
Extras: (b 4, lb 1, w 1) 6
Did not Bat: J Holder, A Nurse, S Cottrell.
Fall of Wickets: 1-78 (Smith, 6.1 ov), 2-114 (Gayle, 10.5 ov), 3-147 (Bravo, 15.1 ov), 4-154 (Samuels, 16.4 ov), 5-161 (Russell, 17.6 ov), 6-164 (Ramdin, 19.1 ov).
South Africa Bowling: K Abbott 4-0-30-0, K Rabada 4-0-38-0, D Wiese 2.2-0-20-1, W Parnell 4-0-39-2, Imran Tahir 4-0-28-3, F Behardien 1-0-8-0