West Indies jump to Final
A classy hundred from Darren Bravo guided West Indies into the final of the tri-series in the Caribbean, as the home team toppled South Africa by 100 runs on Friday (June 24) evening at the Kensington Oval.
The result means that West Indies will face Australia in Sunday’s final.
Needing 286 to win, South Africa never got going and was bowled out for 185, led by a fiery fast bowling spell from Shannon Gabriel (3 for 17) and a wicket-taking, economical spell by Sunil Narine (3 for 28).
The West Indies bowling performances was its best while defending a target in 50 overs since bowling India out for 197 in Kochi in 2014.
Darren Bravo was the Man of the Match for his innings of 102 (103 balls), his third One-Day International hundred. Kieron Pollard (62 off 71) and Bravo played game-changing roles during their enterprising fifth-wicket partnership of 156, and were aided by useful late-innings cameos from Jason Holder (40 off 46) and the ICC World Twenty20 final hero Carlos Brathwaite (33 not out off 42), in setting South Africa a competitive score.
Holder said at the pre-game press conference that the team would prefer to chase, but was put into bat for the second consecutive game and West Indies was rocked by a hostile new-ball spell by world cricket’s most exciting young fast-bowler – Kagiso Rabada.
Rabada, 21, first had Andre Fletcher edging behind to Quinton de Kock, before striking a decisive double blow in the third over. Johnson Charles fended a rising delivery to Chris Morris at second slip, before Marlon Samuels, who hit a century against Australia on Tuesday, was bowled first-ball.
Denesh Ramdin also had his furniture re-arranged as West Indies collapsed to 21 for 4, the first time it had lost four wickets in the first five overs of an ODI since 2001.
Similar to the Samuels and Ramdin 192-run stand on Tuesday, Pollard took his time (play was initially interrupted by a 30-minute rain delay during their alliance), then began to open up – but Bravo looked ominous from the moment he came to the crease.
He hit boundaries at regular intervals and when Imran Tahir, the legspinner, came into the attack, Bravo struck him for a glorious straight six into the Worrell, Weeks and Walcott stand off his second ball.
With Bravo in full flight, West Indies scored 62 runs in six overs from the ninth to the 15th over, and later in the 19th over, he brought up half-century with a Brain Lara-esque cover drive off Wayne Parnell.
The big-hitting Pollard, after scoring his second half-century of the competition and ninth of his career in the 29th over, began to up the ante by hitting JP Duminy for a towering six out of the Oval.
However in the 29th over, Pollard mistimed a lofted on-drive from Morne Morkel and was caught at long-on, ending the highest fifth-wicket partnership for West Indies against South Africa.
Bravo continued to rally on, sealing his hundred by hitting Morris over long-off for six in the 36th over and receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. However, he perished in the next over attempting another straight six, with Faf du Plessis taking an acrobatic running catch.
Holder, who struggled early on taking 17 balls to get off the mark, eventually got into his stride to help finish the innings, which was best highlighted by his huge six off Wayne Parnell, which fell on the Greenidge and Haynes stand roof at deep midwicket.
At the beginning of South Africa’s chase, Ramdin dropped a straightforward catch from Hashim Amla off Gabriel, but redeemed himself two overs later by taking a brilliant one-handed catch off the same bowler.
Gabriel was replicating Rabada’s spell from early in the afternoon as South Africa’s top order could not handle the pace of the man playing only his second ODI.
Du Plessis was beaten for pace and adjudged leg before despite asking for a review. AB de Villiers drove loosely outside offstump and then when Amla perished to Narine’s second delivery of the evening, West Indies was in total command, with the South Africans reeling on 34 for 4 in the 12th over.
The confidence was oozing for the home side and Pollard sent the crowd into a frenzy when he took a magnificent reflex catch at short-leg to dismiss Duminy off Narine, sinking South Africa further to 51 for 5. Wickets continued to tumble and at 134 for 9, it was close to being all over for the visiting side.
Morkel and Tahir resisted valiantly during their stubborn 48-run 10th wicket stand before the final rights were concluded when Tahir edged Braithwaite behind.
Bravo who has had a few starts without carrying on in this series so far, noted that watching a few YouTube clips of his cousin and batting legend Brian Lara, helped inspire him to convert a good start into a hundred.
“It’s definitely by best hundred in one-day cricket,” said Bravo. “I haven’t spoken to Brian recently, but as usual whenever I feel I’m not in the best of form or not scoring as consistently – If I can’t speak to Brian directly – I looked at YouTube clips of his batting since he is my idol and it gave me a timely boost today.”
De Villiers, the South African captain, was disappointed that his team couldn’t replicate similar come-from-behind series wins on the night as they have done in the last year versus England and India.
“We have started something special in the last year after the World Cup,” said de Villiers. “In two big series we won must-win games against England and India – which has given the camp the feeling we can win from any position and that’s the belief we brought into tonight game.
“Overall in this series, we weren’t close to our best even though we won a few games which was a positive, but when it mattered most we didn’t step up and that was disappointing.”