West Indies march into semifinals

Sammy's men post narrow three-wicket win over South Africa

West Indies march into semifinals

The determination of the West Indies overpowered the tigerish resolve of the South Africans as the Caribbeans stormed into the semifinals of the World T20 here on a warm Good Friday evening.

After almost appearing to snatch defeat from the hands of victory, all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite kept his cool under immense pressure, smacking a six off pacer Kagiso Rabada in the final over  — the Caribbeans needed nine off it — as the West Indians scraped home with two balls left for a needlessly tense three-wicket win.

Aware they were just one win away from sealing a berth in the knock-outs from Super 10s Group 1, the West Indies produced a disciplined performance on a challenging VCA Stadium wicket at the start to restrict a nervous-looking South Africans to 122/8.

With the wicket being on the slower side but not as venomous as the last two major games it has hosted, including the opening match of this WT20 where India were bowled out for a paltry 79 in pursuit of New Zealand’s 126/7, the South Africans returned from the break hoping to stifle the West Indians and keep their semifinal hopes alive.

Rising young pacer Kagiso Rabada gave them that hope when he castled the dangerous Chris Gayle in the fifth ball of the opening over. With their tails up, the South Africans, knowing a defeat would mean an early exit if England beat the Sri Lankans at New Delhi on Saturday, attacked the West Indies on a pitch that wasn’t necessarily kind for new batsmen but appeared playable for set ones.

Opener Johnson Charles 32 (35b, 2x4, 1x6) and Andre Fletcher assessed the conditions perfectly and mixed caution with aggression. They seldom attempted any outrageous shots, choosing to bide time and then go for the kill. They ticked along rather smoothly before a stunning piece of fielding from Rilee Rossouw injected life into the South Africans.

Charles cut David Wiese and Rossouw picked the ball up and knocked off the stumps at the other end — off-balance and lightening quick. Fletcher, who went for a single before being sent back, simply had no time as the Proteas celebrated animatedly.

Charles, however, didn’t allow that mix-up to get the better of him and went about his business in a calculated fashion. Spinners Aaron Phangiso and Imran Tahir made life difficult for them, but he played them well. He carted the returning Phangiso for a 101-metre six as the required rate always stayed within reach.

Looking set, he fell while attempting a mighty swing off David Wiese, top-edging and offering a simple catch to Faf du Plessis. Bravo fell soon after and the match then saw a twist when Tahir dismissed the dangerous Andre Russell and skipper Darren Sammy off successive balls, leaving the West Indies needing 23 off 18 balls with four wickets left.

Wiese bowled an astounding 18th over, conceding just three runs, as the Windies appeared to snatch defeat from the hands of victory. Set batsmen Marlon Samuels 44 (44b, 6x4), who picked up two crucial boundaries in opportunistic fashion to reduce the equation considerably, added more spice to contest, perishing in the fifth ball of the penultimate over.

However, Brathwaite and Denesh Ramdin made sure there weren’t any more changes in the plot, staying calm to seal their semis berth.

Scoreboard

SOUTH AFRICA
Amla (run out)    1
(1b)
De Kock b Russell    47
(46b, 3x4, 1x6)
Du Plessis c Benn b Russell    9
(7b, 1x6)
Rossouw c Russell b Gayle    0
(2b)
De Villiers b Bravo    10
(12b, 1x4)
Miller b Gayle    1
(4b)
Wiese c Sammy b Bravo    28
(26b, 2x4)
Morris (not out)    16
(17b, 2x4)
Phangiso (run out)    4
(5b)
Extras (B-4, W-2)    6
Total (for 8 wkts, 20 overs)    122
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Amla), 2-13 (Du Plessis), 3-20 (Rossouw), 4-46 (De Villiers), 5-47 (Miller), 6-97 (De Kock), 7-112 (Wiese), 8-122 (Phangiso).
Bowling: Badree 3-0-22-0, Russell 4-0-28-2 (w-2), Gayle 3-0-17-2, Brathwaite 2-0-11-0, Benn 4-0-20-0, Bravo 4-0-20-2.
WEST INDIES
Charles c Du Plessis b Wiese    32
(35b, 2x4, 1x6)
Gayle b Rabada    4
(2b, 1x4)
Fletcher (run out)    11
(11b, 1x6)
Samuels c de Villiers b Morris    44
(44b, 6x4)
Bravo c Wiese b Phangiso    8
(6b, 1x4)
Russell c Miller b Tahir    4
(8b)
Sammy b Tahir    0
(1b)
Brathwaite (not out)    10
(10b, 1x6)
Ramdin (not out)    1
(1b)
Extras (W-8, LB-2)    10
Total (for 7 wkts, 19.4 overs)    123
Fall of wickets: 1-5 (Gayle), 2-34 (Fletcher), 3-66 (Charles), 4-87 (Bravo), 5-100 (Russell), 6-100 (Sammy), 7-113 (Samuels).
Bowling: Rabada 3.4-0-38-1 (W-3), Morris 4-0-32-1 (W-2), Tahir 4-0-13-2, Wiese 4-0-19-1 (W-2), Phangiso 4-0-19-1 (W-1).

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