West Indies: 190/6 (Samuels 48, Gayle 36, Devon Smith 30, Steyn 2/33, Morris 1/30, Robin Peterson 1/22) tied with South Africa: 230/6 (Ingram 73, Miller 38, De Villiers 37, Dwayne Bravo 2/43, Samuels 1/14, Pollard 1/30) on Duckworth/Lewis method
It should not have ended like it did but the cricket gods finally smiled on the Proteas as they qualified for the ICC Champions Trophy semifinals via the squeakiest of margins tonight.
A draw with the West Indies on the Duckworth/Lewis method saw the Proteas go through thanks to a superior run rate.
If it wasn’t for Kieron Pollard’s brainless shot at the start of the 27th over, it could have been a different story. The West Indies were ahead of the eight-ball until that crucial dismissal.
Margins cannot get any finer but South Africa’s net run rate of +0.325, which was superior to the West Indies -0.075, came through.
South Africa needed a good start despite the 7.45 run rate they set the West Indies. When Johnson Charles was given a lifeline on 10 as JP Duminy shelled a simple chance at mid-wicket, the omens did not look good.
But he only added six more before a short-ball working over from Dale Steyn blew his short fuse, with AB de Villiers taking responsibility for a difficult catch.
The key wicket was that of Chris Gayle, who is as thorny to the South African skin as Brian Lara was. He hit the ball hard, not sparing any bowler, but it was the impressive Chris Morris who got rid of him.
Chiming in from around the wicket, he induced a hard but false shot.
Devon Smith and Darren Bravo, who sacrificed his wicket after Marlon Samuels hared down the wicket for a non-existent third run, followed with relative ease. Samuels still had a big say in the outcome of the game.
The hero of the West Indies’ T20 World Cup conquest, Samuels was the one batsman who could shift gears with ease. With rain on the horizon, he narrowed the Duckworth/Lewis equation with explosive hitting which saw him accrue 31 runs from 9 balls after a slow start.
His partnership with the rather quiet Pollard was critical in listing the West Indian ship. It took Steyn to get rid of Samuels. His mayhem was part of a session in which the Proteas bled 76 runs from seven overs. Such passages of play win or lose you matches.
Pollard stood between South Africa and a natural early exit as the partnership with Samuels had the Windies ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis equation. His dismissal in the 27th over dragged South Africa into the game and ultimately the semi-finals.
For the Proteas, Colin Ingram’s 73 set an excellent platform as it was combination of excellent running and timely boundary hitting. It should have been supplemented by feisty hitting but the Proteas had their fair share of boundaries despite some tight and pretty hostile bowling.
Ingram has been thrust uncomfortably into the opening role ahead of the experienced Alviro Petersen. At some stage, the trick had to come off and he chose a pressurised cauldron in which to do it.
Hashim Amla’s timing was off and his wicket was the first to fall, as he was snared by Chris Gayle at short cover off Marlon Samuels. As scratchy as the innings was, it was the perfect foil to Ingram’s buccaneering innings.
Ingram was out five overs later but at 124/2 in the 18th over, South Africa were in the hunt for a massive total. It stalled a bit when JP Duminy and AB de Villiers fell quite quickly, robbing the Proteas of momentum.
What it did give though was a chance for David Miller to reprise some of his Indian Premier League pyrotechnics. His 29-ball innings contained three cleanly hit sixes.
It more than made up for his slow start and the misfiring Faf du Plessis, whose 32-ball innings was a crawl in the circumstances. It nearly killed the Proteas but it was sufficient.
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