• Russell guides Windies home

    Andre Russell smashed 64 off 40 balls to clinch a dramatic one-wicket win for the West Indies in the fourth ODI at St George’s Park.

    At one stage, the West Indies were on the ropes at 73-5. Few would have bet on Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy clubbing together for a 93-run partnership that changed the flow of the game. Even fewer would have backed the tourists to prevail after these two departed.Nobody but the most ardent West Indian fan would have expected the team to win after being reduced to 239-9. And yet, in the end, Russell made it look easy, steering the West Indies to the target of 263 with nine balls to spare.The Proteas went into this game having already won the series. This allowed them the freedom to experiment with a few new players, and to rest senior players of the calibre of Hashim Amla, Imran Tahir, Vernon Philander, and Dale Steyn.Ultimately, they would miss the experience of those established bowlers. The bowling during the middle and latter stages of this contest was abjectly poor. Not enough pressure was generated on the likes of Samuels and Sammy, and the Proteas had no answer to Russell at the death. What this performance showed is that South Africa’s bowling remains vulnerable and that there is very little strength in depth.

    The Proteas were similarly unconvincing on the batting front. They went into this game without Amla and Quinton de Kock (injured), and were on the back foot when they lost their first four wickets for 76 runs. Few could have predicted that David Miller, an aggressive player by nature, would assume the role of anchor and ensure that the Proteas reached a formidable total of 262.

    Miller worked hard for his runs, and eventually surpassed the three-figure mark in the 48th over. He still managed to score at a decent rate, and ultimately it took him 122 balls to reach his maiden ODI century.

    Once that milestone had been reached, Miller reverted to his natural game. Thanks to Miller’s clean-hitting, the Proteas added 33 runs in the last two-and-a-half overs. While West Indies captain Jason Holder finished the innings with four wickets, the visitors as a collective were poor during those latter overs.

    South Africa had every right to feel that 262 was a winning score on a slow St George’s Park wicket. The West Indies lost Dwayne Smith and Chris Gayle early in the innings. Leon Johnson’s dismissal as well as a couple of run-outs reduced the tourists to 73-5.

    Samuels was the pick of the West Indies’ batsmen, and enjoyed some support from Sammy later in the innings. But when Farhaan Behardien picked up the key wicket of Samuels in the 40th over, it looked as if the Proteas would clinch their fourth straight win.

    When the tourists continued to lose wickets, Russell took it upon himself to win the game with a series of big shots. The all-rounder finished the game with a booming six over long-on, ensuring that the West Indies pulled one back in the series.

    South Africa hold an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series. The last match of the tour will be played at Centurion on Wednesday.

    South Africa 262-8 (David Miller 130 not out, JP Duminy 43, Jason Holder 4-53, Sheldon Cottrell 2-39)
    West Indies 266-9 (Marlon Samuels 68, Andre Russell 64 not out, Darren Sammy 51, Farhaan Behardien 2-21)
    West Indies won by 1 wicket

    Click here for full scorecard

    Post by