Off spinner Sunil Narine and middle order batsman Kieron Pollard returned to international cricket in an emphatic manner by propelling West Indies to a four-wicket win against South Africa in their triangular series opener in Providence tonight.
Narine snaffled a career-best 6 for 27 to ensure West Indies bowled South Africa out for 188, before Pollard struck an aggressive, unbeaten 67 to take his team to the target.
The last time South Africa were dismissed for a lower total against West Indies was after readmission, in April 1992. Then, the West Indies quicks blasted them out. This time, Narine had them in a spin with his variations. With the help of Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite and his captain Jason Holder, Narine reduced South Africa to 188, a total well below the first-innings average of 211 in Providence.
South Africa’s struggles were indicative of the difficulties in scoring freely on a slow Providence pitch, with West Indies also finding run-making tough. But with not enough to defend, a drizzle in the air and too many extras, South Africa had it up against them. In the end, West Indies held their nerve to earn their third ODI victory over South Africa in the last decade.
Opening the batting together for the 50th time in ODIs, Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla got South Africa off to a strong start. They marked the milestone with a 52-run stand, providing a strong foundation. But Narine’s introduction stopped their charge.
Two balls after Brathwaite removed de Kock, who inside-edged a pull onto his stumps, Narine deceived Amla with a knuckle ball to trap him lbw. Rilee Rossouw started cautiously. In the 12th over, Rossouw poked at a Brathwaite delivery, but the thick outside edge landed inches short of wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin. An over later, he survived an lbw shout off Narine. Replays showed the ball had pitched outside leg stump.
AB de Villiers ushered Rossouw through his nerves and coaxed him into strike rotation against a disciplined West Indian effort. The pair brought up South Africa’s 100 in the 24th over, and could not find a boundary in their 120-ball stand.
The drought was broken when Rossouw reverse-swept Sulieman Benn in the 30th over. But, de Villiers was dismissed off the next ball, popping a return catch to Taylor.
After the dismissal of de Villiers, Rossouw dropped anchor and brought up his fifth ODI fifty off 74 balls. But, he was caught at slip off a ripping offbreak from Narine in the 36th over.
That wicket sparked a collapse that saw South Africa lose 7 for 28, five of them to Narine. Farhaan Behardien was out for a second-ball duck and Chris Morris squandered a review when he was given out lbw. As a result, Imran Tahir, who was wrongly adjudged lbw, was unable to make use of the review. South Africa were bowled out in the 47th over. Although their top five batsmen scored over 20, no batsman from the bottom six could register a double-digit score.
After the advantage their bowling attack gave them, West Indies began their reply in carefree fashion. Johnson Charles played loosely outside his off stump and edged to third man three times in the first two overs. He should have been out lbw to a Kagiso Rabada yorker at the end of the fourth over but de Villiers did not review. By then, Charles had realised the need to show caution. Both he and opening partner Andre Fletcher held back and built slowly.
South Africa waited until after the first Powerplay to bring on Imran Tahir. But Tahir had immediate success, beating Fletcher with a googly that snuck between bat and body and cannoned into the stumps. Six overs later, another googly accounted for Charles, prompting Tahir to sprint off in celebration. South Africa had West Indies in the same position they were in –– 52 for 2 –– in 17 overs and then edged ahead when a full, flat delivery from Aaron Phangiso had Marlon Samuels trapped in front.
Darren Bravo and Ramdin steadied the innings, but fell behind the required run-rate. Ramdin drove a catch to de Villiers at short extra cover, which brought Pollard to the crease.
Pollard slammed the second ball he faced, off JP Duminy, over long-on to record the first six of the match and added two more in the next over off Phangiso. He was the only batsmen to hit a six in the match. Bravo recognised the supporting role he had to play and let Pollard take control. Together, they added 74 for the fifth wicket and put West Indies back on track.
Phangiso removed Bravo and Brathwaite to claim career-best figures of 3 for 40 but his efforts were in vain.