Morne van Wyk’s excellent innings of 114, and David Wiese’s five-wicket haul set up the Proteas for a 69-run win in Durban on Wednesday night.
South Africa scored 195-3, to which the West Indies replied with 126 in 19 overs.
Van Wyk became just the third South African to score a T20 ton, after Richard Levi (117) and Faf du Plessis (119). With that 114 (9×4, 7×6), he also became the champion for the most balls faced in a T20I: 70 balls, beating Martin Guptill’s 69 (from which he scored 101).
Wiese smashed through the much-vaunted top order, eventually taking five for 23.
Yes, it was a dead rubber after two defeats, and yes, the Windies rested some top players, including the iconic, unstoppable Chris Gayle. But they really did want to win this one, dedicating it to to the people of St Vincent after a bus accident there killed five passengers.
But they were just not up to it in the face of some disciplined (in parts) bowling.
Only Lendl Simmons offered any resistance, scoring 49, mostly off Wayne Parnell’s first over (23, 4×4, 1×6). They had looked up for the fight at the end of the powerplay, scoring 57 for the loss of Dwayne Smith (5) in that sixth over. But then they lost wickets, heart and respect. They dropped eight wickets for 58 runs.
The Proteas had rested Du Plessis and Imran Tahir and lost David Miller to a back spasm. The Windies rested superman Chris Gayle, Denesh Ramdin, Sulieman Benn and Jason Holder ahead of the one-dayers.
But the Proteas had learnt the lesson of taking the fight to the enemy: they came out of the blocks at speed, despite the best efforts of Sheldon Cottrell who conceded just five runs from his first two overs. Carlos Brathwaite, in his first outing, dramatically undermined his colleague, giving away seven runs from wides and two fours from his first over. Darren Sammy strangely persisted with him and he went for 15 off his next over, contributing to the Proteas running up 62 in the powerplay.
At 86-0 after eight, Sammy then decided he needed some experience, bringing on Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Kieron Pollard. Suddenly the run-rate plummeted. In the next five overs, the Proteas scored 26 runs and lost Reeza Hendricks, who did not quite get hold of a slower ball from Pollard. Still, he had contributed 42 (5×4, 1×6)to a stand of 111 of 12.4 overs.
There was nothing resembling the early fireworks thereafter, and at 130-1 after 15 overs, they needed a surge. It was slow in coming, with Wiese bowled by a yorker from Bravo for 21 off 16, and Rilee Rossouw following soon after for 0, trying to force the pace.
Van Wyk found his mojo again to slam 28 runs (1×4, 3×6) off Cottrell and Bravo in the last two overs, bringing up his hundred in 67 balls (9×4, 5×6).
JP Duminy, facing his first ball after a long injury lay-off, whacked another six to put the cherry on the top and offered the Windies a decent target at 9.75 an over. It could have been a breeze, but with a Gayle, they were becalmed and sunk.