Kagiso Rabada took figures of 3-31, but West Indies still managed to post a competitive 285 in their do-or-die clash in Barbados.
It all came down to this for the Proteas and West Indies, as the winner of the contest at the Kensington Oval on Friday would determine Australia’s opponents in the Tri-Nation series final on Sunday.
At this stage it’s difficult to determine who will come out on top, as a devastating opening spell by Rabada was combated by West Indies’ highest fifth-wicket stand against South Africa.
Rabada took all three of his wickets in his first three overs, as he consistently teetered on the brink of passing the 150km/h mark. He backed up his lethal pace with some clinical lengths, setting the batsmen up with short balls before bowling full and on the stumps, which reaped the rewards.
Morne Morkel was sworn in for his first proper match of the tournament after the contest against Australia last weekend was washed out, but it was Rabada and Wayne Parnell to open the bowling after AB de Villiers won the toss, in what has in fact been a quiet evening for Morkel so far.
Parnell took the first wicket of the match, finding the edge of Andre Fletcher for eight. The next over was the big one, as Rabada saw off Johnson Charles for four. The very next ball Marlon Samuels – the threat leading up to the match after his swashbuckling century against Australia – was clean bowled. 12-0 was suddenly 12-3.
With Rabada’s next over, Denesh Ramdin was teed up with a sharp bouncer that pinged him on the helmet, before his stumps were rattled the next ball. What happened next, however – with a rain delay thrown in between – was a record-breaking one for the islanders.
Darren Bravo and Kieron Pollard put on a 156-run stand as they wrestled the match back in their favour. They hit six sixes between them, as Pollard reached a ninth half-century before falling for 62, Morkel with his only wicket of the match.
Bravo looked every bit the player his talent has suggested over the years. It was his third ODI century, but his first against elite opposition. He fell for 103, but it will go down as his best knock in coloured clothing.
That gave Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite a bit of a platform to unleash. It was steady at first, but they both displayed their all-round abilities with 40 and an unbeaten 33 respectively, which lifted them to 285 all out with one ball left. Chris Morris did a good job of sorting out the tail at the death, picking up figures of 3-63.