South Africa 166 for 7 (Bavuma 46, Hendricks 42, McCoy 3-25) beat West Indies 150 for 9 (Fletcher 35, Rabada 3-37) by 16 runs
South Africa earned their first T20I victory under new white-ball captain Temba Bavuma and successfully defended a score under 170 for just the third time since the 2016 World T20 to level the five-match series against West Indies 1-1.
While Kagiso Rabada took wickets at the start and end of the innings, South Africa had their spinners George Linde and Tabraiz Shamsi to thank for the win. Between them, Linde and Shamsi bowled eight overs, conceded 35 runs and took three wickets to take West Indies from 62 for 2 in the ninth over to 70 for 5 in the 11th, in pursuit of 167.
Despite late cameos from Jason Holder and Fabian Allen, the required rate proved too high. Both teams will be concerned with the performances of their middle orders, who failed to build on promising starts. No South African batter outside the top three scored more than 11 while West Indies' No. 3-6 batters were all dismissed in single figures.
Positive in the powerplay
With as many as five potential opening batters in their squad, South Africa have several combinations to choose from but stuck with Reeza Hendricks and Quinton de Kock for the second successive match. After putting on 33 in 3.4 overs on Saturday, the pair came good with 73 in 6.4 overs in this match. They scored 69 runs in the Powerplay including seven fours and three sixes and were aggressive against the opening spin pair and the seamers that followed.
De Kock took 14 runs off Holder's opening over, including the first six of the innings as he cleared midwicket. At the other end, Hendricks plundered 14 off Allen, and hit him back over his head for six before hitting two fours off the next three balls and then being gifted four leg-byes. South Africa have only scored more runs in a Powerplay three times - 88 for 0 and 83 for 0 against England in 2016, and 78 for 0 against Zimbabwe in 2010. In the end, it set them up for a match-winning total.
Hendricks was well-set to score the sixth fifty of his T20I career but two balls after the halfway mark was beaten as he attempted a reverse-sweep off Kevin Sinclair. He was given out on-field and reviewed after consultation with his captain, Bavuma. A cutaway of the players was shown but Ultra-Edge was not available and the television umpire, Joel Wilson, eventually had to make his call based on the split-screen. There was a clear gap between bat and ball and ball-tracking upheld the on-field call, with the ball clipping off stump, so had to go. South Africa were 96 for 2, with 200 still well within sight.
...and so does South Africa's middle-order
South Africa's top-heavy squad has left them with a soft middle-order and that showed after the Powerplay and particularly in the second half of their innings. They lost 7 for 97 between the 7th and 20th over, adding only 21 for the loss of three wickets in the last four overs.
Left-arm seamer Obed McCoy was the standout performer at the death. After his first over cost 10 runs in the Powerplay, he conceded only 15 runs in his next three and claimed the wickets of David Miller, caught at deep midwicket, Linde, lbw on review, and Heinrich Klaasen, holing out in the last over. Dwayne Bravo bowled the penultimate over and gave away just six runs to build on the start Sinclair had given West Indies. He opened the bowling and finished with 2 for 23 in his four overs, the most economical West Indian return and his own career-best.
South African spin
Linde and Shamsi bowled six overs in tandem after the Powerplay and gave away just 23 runs between them. Importantly, they picked up three wickets in that period to put South Africa in a winning position. After the seventh and eighth overs yielded just eight runs between them, Nicholas Pooran, batting at No. 4, felt he needed to do something; he tried to hit Linde over long-on but played for turn when there wasn't any and skied the ball to Miller on the boundary. Pooran has been dismissed in single figures in eight out of his last 10 T20 innings.
In the next over, Kieron Pollard attempted a slog-sweep off a Shamsi legbreak and found a diving Hendricks at midwicket. Four balls later, Andre Russell did not get hold of a leg-side heave off Linde, whom he tried to dispatch over deep midwicket. Klaasen negotiated between staring into the sun and losing the ball in the shadows and ended up taking the catch of the match to leave West Indies 70 for 4.
We all know the old trick when the fielding side appeal for caught behind when the ball has drifted down the leg side to avoid having the umpire call wide, don't we? Well, South Africa did that at the start of the 17th over when Allen missed a pull off Anrich Nortje, which was called wide. For once, it worked: de Kock convinced Bavuma to review but a working Ultra-Edge showed no contact between bat, or glove, and ball - though the wide was reversed, with the ball flicking the thigh pad.
In the event, the next ball brought a wicket: Allen drove Nortje to Bavuma at extra-cover, whose quick pick-up and release back to Nortje allowed him to catch Holder short of his crease coming back for two, all but ending West Indies' chances of a successful chase. Allen hit the expensive Lungi Ngidi for three sixes in the final over, but by then the game was lost.