A bustling unbeaten 79 from JP Duminy helped South Africa to a six-wicket win in the opening game of this five-ODI series at Centurion. They strolled home with two overs in the bank but that hides the fact that they had more than a few uneasy moments during their chase.
The match, reduced to 36 overs a side after heavy overnight rain, followed a similar pattern to Friday’s Twenty20. South Africa’s bowlers took an early stranglehold, West Indies battled back, South Africa’s batsmen wobbled before their strength in depth enabled them to secure victory. Two days ago Shaun Pollock was the hero; today it was JP Duminy.
Chasing a modest 176, South Africa got off to a shocking start, losing both openers inside four overs. Jacques Kallis and Duminy were building a good recovery when light rain started to fall. All eyes turned to the Duckworth-Lewis calculations, something that still tends to cause nightmares in these parts, and the possibility of an artificial finish appeared to rattle the batsmen. Kallis fell to add to dressing-room jitters, but as the weather eased Duminy and Justin Ontong regained their composure and took charge. West Indies, hampered by a wet outfield and a soggy ball, were not helped by the conditions, although their cause was further hindered by some dreadful fielding as the match slipped from their grasp.
That it was Duminy, one of their new boys, that anchored the chase was the icing on the cake for South Africa. Too often it has been left to the old guard to dig them out of trouble, but his innings was measured, his shot selection sound, and more importantly he did not panic even when the rain was falling.
West Indies again looked at least one bowler light and Bravo, who had said before the start he could not bowl, felt the need to bring himself on. It almost worked as he removed Ontong with a brilliant diving caught-and-bowled in his first over, but thereafter he looked like a man uneasy with his body. That he felt that he had no option but to haul himself into the attack underlined the lack of faith in some of the other options.
In fairness to West Indies, it was to their credit that they made a match of it at all after they were stuck in in seamer-friendly conditions and then slid to 81 for 6. The rain juiced up the pitch and South Africa’s impressive all-seam attack did the rest. It took a solid seventh-wicket stand of 69 between Darren Sammy and Runako Morton and then some old-fashioned hitting late on to boost them to 175.
The seamers bowled a nagging length which prevented the batsmen from getting onto the front foot, and the middle order came and went in a flurry of shots born out of frustration.
What will concern South Africa is the way that once again they failed to finish the job after doing all the hard work. There was some excellent fielding, none better than Pollock’s pinpoint return to the keeper from long-on to run out Morton, but there was too much sloppy stuff in among it.
Had the match gone to the wire then South Africa would also have had some justification to gripe about the umpires who twice in as many overs declined to refer run-out appeals when replays showed the batsmen to be short of their ground. It was either incompetence or a show of solidarity with Steve Bucknor, but there would have been far more of a stink had West Indies won by the odd run or two.
The two sides now head to Cape Town for the second match on Friday. West Indies have lost four on the trot and despite twice hauling themselves back into games after poor starts, they have nothing to show for all their efforts. They need to get a win or their morale could start to drain away rapidly.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:JP Duminy, South Africa, West Indies, West Indies in South Africa 2007
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Monday, January 21st, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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