South Africa’s fate in the T20 World Cup is out of their control after they lost to West Indies by three wickets in Nagpur on Friday.
The Proteas almost managed to make a game out of it, but in the end they were about 20 runs short of a defendable total on a slow, two-paced pitch.
South Africa must now hope England lose to Sri Lanka on Sunday and their net run-rate remains good enough to go through.
West Indies almost threw it away, because what should have been a comfortable run-a-ball victory for them almost derailed as they continued to go for unnecessary big shots with disastrous results.
If only South Africa had two Imran Tahirs. The leg-spinner gave his team hope of an unlikely victory with an outstanding final over, taking two wickets in consecutive balls and conceding just one run in the over.
Andre Russell was caught on the boundary by David Miller before Tahir bowled Darren Sammy with a googly to remove the West Indies captain for a golden duck. They went from 99-4 to 100-6 as Tahir finished with brilliant figures of 2-13, and David Wiese followed it up by conceding just three runs from the 18th over.
But it also meant it was up to the seamers – Chris Morris (1-33) and Kagiso Rabada (1-38) – to defend 20 runs from the last two overs.
Needless to say, they couldn’t pull it off, and there was nothing in their bowling prior to that to suggest they would be able to do it. Morris went for 11 runs, but did manage to remove the dangerous Marlon Samuels off the second-last ball of the over.
It left Rabada, who had gone for close to 10 an over for most of the match, to defend nine off the last six deliveries. The first ball was a dot, but the next went for six which effectively ended the contest, despite Hashim Amla dropping Denesh Ramdin with one run needed.
Aaron Phangiso, who played his first game for South Africa in five months, conceded just one run from his first over and finished with excellent figures of 1-19 in four overs.
West Indies stayed with the asking rate and never scored quicker than South Africa did, scoring 37 runs in the powerplay compared to 39 by the Proteas. Rabada bowled Chris Gayle in the first over, but there weren’t enough early wickets to keep the pressure on the opposition.
South Africa failed to assess and adjust to the conditions in Nagpur and ultimately lost the game in the first 10 overs of their innings.
Quinton de Kock (47) was South Africa’s best batsman, but ran out Hashim Amla for one off the third ball of the innings. De Kock shared a vital 50-run partnership with Wiese (28) during the middle overs, but it was always going to be tough getting to a competitive total after slumping to 47-5 inside nine overs.
West Indies opened the bowling with spinner Samuel Badree and also employed Chris Gayle early. Faf du Plessis mistimed one to mid-off before Rilee Rossouw, coming in at No 4 ahead of AB de Villiers, fell to Gayle with an awful shot to get caught at point.
De Villiers looked solid for a while before he was cleaned bowled by Dwayne Bravo for 10. Miller followed in the next over, playing for spin where there was none and seeing the ball go straight into his stumps.
De Kock and Wiese brought some stability for a while before the former also got bowled trying to sweep a delivery on his leg-stump.
Wiese skied one off Bravo which left Morris and Phangiso, in for Kyle Abbott in this game, to scrape around for a defendable total.