West Indies will play Australia in the Tri-Nation series final, after they beat the Proteas by 100 runs in Barbados on Friday.
After crushing the Windies by 139 runs last week, the Proteas were expected to use that momentum to get themselves through to Sunday’s finale after a tough start to the campaign that saw them lose two of their first three, but just like those defeats, it was their batting that let them down again.
The Windies must give themselves credit for the way they responded after being on 21-4 thanks to a Kagiso Rabada blitz. The tourists were similarly struggling on 35-4, but unlike their opponents, they couldn’t find that partnership to carry them over the hurdle.
It took a record partnership for the Windies to achieve that – a record fifth-wicket stand against SA – by Darren Bravo and Kieron Pollard (156), before Shannon Gabriel, featuring in just his second ODI, produced a devastating spell of new-ball bowling to obliterate the Proteas’ top order.
Apart from Rabada, it was a disappointing display with the ball, as Morne Morkel, playing in his first proper game of the tournament after the washed-out encounter against Australia, failed to hit his straps, sending down six wides and going at 7.55 an over.
South Africa got off to a flyer thanks to Rabada, who consistently pushed the 150km/h barrier with a lethal mix of short- and full-pitched deliveries. Wayne Parnell got the first wicket, but Rabada then struck twice in as many balls to have them from 12-0 to 12-3 in just six deliveries. Marlon Samuels, who produced a century against Australia the last time around, fell first ball.
Bravo and Pollard then knuckled down before timing their onslaught to perfection, smashing six sixes between them. Pollard brought up his ninth ODI half-century, before Bravo put on a Man of the Match display that saw him raise his bat for a third ODI century, and first against an elite nation.
That gave Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite the platform to unleash, and they raised their all-rounder credentials with 40 and 33 not out respectively, to help them to 285.
The warning signs were there early on in the innings for the Proteas as Gabriel got the ball to swing away and at a pace not too much slower than Rabada. Hashim Amla was dropped by Ramdin behind the stumps on two. It didn’t prove too costly, as a fine take by Ramdin in Gabriel’s next over saw De Kock walk back for six.
The Gabriel show continued, taking a wicket in each of his next two overs, first trapping Faf du Plessis lbw for three, then beating AB De Villiers for pace, chasing a wild drive only to snick it behind for two.
That rattled SA and they never recovered. They didn’t score a run for another 18 balls, and it didn’t take long for the pressure to toll as Sunil Narine got in on the act to trap Amla for 16. Skipper Holder, a hamstring doubt going into this match, then had JP Duminy for five, capping off a poor match for the all-rounder, who conceded 15 runs off his solitary over earlier in the day.
Farhaan Behardien, who top-scored with 35, attempted to rescue the innings but it was too late, and by the time he departed it was 96-7. A fifty stand for the 10th wicket between Imran Tahir and Morkel just prolonged the inevitable, for the Proteas to return home early.
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